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Posts Tagged ‘Pranab Mukherjee

Jan Lokpal Bill: Need serious consideration on Anna’s three conditions, says Pranab

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Pranab Mukherjee, Indian politician, current F...

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Observing that the nation was at “cross-roads” in view of Anna Hazare’s campaign, government today asked Parliament to consider the Gandhian‘s three key demands on Lokpal Bill within Constitutional framework and by preserving Parliament’s supremacy.

Making identical statements in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to form the basis for a debate, Finance MinisterPranab Mukherjee said the issues raised by Hazare are “important” and “genuine” which “deserve our serious consideration”.

As Hazare’s fast entered 12th day, Mukherjee said the situation was “moving out of hand” and “crisis” had been created as he asked lawmakers to “seize the moment and demonstrate the commitment” in dealing with corruption which is “gnawing at the vitals of our polity”.

He said Parliament needed to discuss (i) whether the jurisdiction of the Lokpal should cover all employees of the Central government, (ii) whether it will be applicable through the institution of the Lok Ayukt in all states, and (iii) whether the Lokpal should have the power to punish all those who violate the ‘grievance redressal mechanism’ to be put in place.

These are the aspects that Hazare and his team are demanding to be included in the Lokpal Bill.

“In case a consensus emerges at the end of the discussions, the Standing Committee will, in the course of their deliberations, take into account their practicability, implementability and constitutionality.

“For, everything that we do, must be consistent with the principles enshrined within our Constitutional framework,” Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee wanted Lok Sabha to consider whether Lokpal should have power to punish those who violate ‘grievance redressal mechanism’.

“The standing committee can take up their practicality, constitutionality and implementability,” Mukherjee said.

In the Rajya Sabha, Pranab said that the issues on which Hazare is agitating are genuine. Mukherjee said situation created by Hazare’s agitation is “moving out of hand” and crisis has been created.

Team Anna and the government held another round of talks here today to end the deadlock over the Lokpal Bill prior to the debate on the issue in Parliament.

Team Anna members Prashant Bhushan and Medha Patkar met Law Minister Salman Khurshid here and discussed issues which the government could take up in Parliament during the debate.

“Only thing that has been discussed is what will come up before Parliament…we have already give Anna’s letter to him,” Patkar told reporters after the meeting.

Noting that dialogue between both sides was on, she said Hazare and his team have not gone back on their three key demands — all civil servants should be brought under Lokpal, a Citizen Charter should be displayed at all government offices and all states should have Lokayuktas.

“We are still on the same three points, which really matters. The government is responding. Now it is not only the government, it is also the opposition parties. All are positive about the process,” she said.

She said every MP is concerned about Anna’s health. The agitation will continue as has been made clear by Anna. There is no question of ending the protest, she added.

Fasting Anna Hazare today broke his silence of nearly 38 hours and addressed his supporters declaring that he will continue his protest till his last breath for a strong anti-corruption law.

Amid mounting worries over the 74-year-old Gandhian’s health, Hazare said he could fast for another “three-four days” and “nothing will happen to him”.

Hazare, who did not address his supporters since 8 pm on August 25, emerged on the dais at around 10 am to a loud cheer from supporters who raised slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Inquilab Zindabad’.

“I am not doing this for my personal gain. If it was so, I would not have lasted five days. Till Jan Lokpal Bill is passed, my protest will continue,” the Gandhian told his supporters at Ramlila Maidan where he is sitting on a fast.

He said he was getting energy from those who are coming out in support of the cause and this energy will help him sustain for three-four more days. “Till Jan Lokpal Bill is passed, I won’t die,” he said in his speech that lasted for five minutes.

Hazare said he was surprised at the manner in which the country has responded to his call while referring to a person who was sporting a tattoo on his shoulder that stated that he was the supporter of the Gandhian.

“I am surprised that a ‘fakir’ is getting this support. It is not me who is doing all this. God has pointed fingers at me. He has chosen me to do the work. It is he who is doing all this. I am praised for what I am doing. A ‘fakir’ should not be praised so much,” he said.

COURTESY: THE ECONOMIC TIMES

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Ministers, MPs face ‘aam aadmi’ protest

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People protesting for Jan-Lokpal Bill supporting Anna Hazare

Top ministers, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and some MPs on Monday faced protests on the issue of the Lokpal Bill after people gathered in front of their houses here following a call by Anna Hazare.

People protested in front of the residences of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Ms. Dikshit and some MPs.

The first to face the ire of people was Mr. Sibal. Around 40 protesters staged a protest outside his Teen Murti residence seeking his support for the Jan Lokpal Bill.

The protests came following Mr. Hazare’s call to stage demonstrations outside the residences of ministers and MPs to ask them their stand on the Lokpal bill.

“We have come here to request Sibal to support the Jan Lokpal Bill. This is a good bill and everybody should support it,” a protester outside Sibal’s Teen Murti residence said.

On Sunday evening also several people had gathered outside the residence of Mr. Sibal and shouted slogans against him. They left before the police could come to the spot.

People also gathered outside the Talkatora residence of Mr. Mukherjee, who was member of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill along with Mr. Sibal, and shouted slogans against the government.

Police was deployed outside their residences.

Protesters also staged demonstrations outside Dikshit’s Motilal Nehru Road residence. They shouted slogans against the Chief Minister and also mentioned the CAG report on Commonwealth Games.

A protest was also held outside BJP MP Ashok Argal’s residence.

COURTESY: THE HINDU

Civil society leaders behaving like legislators: Pranab

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Pranab Mukherjee, Indian politician, current F...

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Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said that the leaders of the civil society movement for a Lokpal Bill have given an impression as if they have become legislators.

“The way the civil society movement is continuing in the country, it gives an impression that the leaders have become legislators,” Mukherjee said.

Speaking at the convocation of the Bengal Engineering and Science University in Shibpur in Howrah district, Mukherjee said he had been asked during a programme in Hanoi why the Indian government was giving so much importance to the civil society movement in the country.

“I told them that Indian democracy is not stagnant. It is a multi-faceted democracy. We have to consider opinions of different people and organisations. It is a new kind of process. We have to listen to them,” Mukherjee said.

There are thousands of opinions on any important issue which have to be heard, the Finance Minister said.

Speaking at the Bengal Engineering and Science University in Shibpur in Howrah district, Mukherjee said he had been asked during a programme in Hanoi why the Indian government was giving so much importance to the civil society movement in the country.

“I told them that Indian democracy is not stagnant. It is multi-faceted. We have to consider opinions of different people and organisations. It is a new kind of process. We have to listen to them,” Mukherjee said.

He said, “Pre-legislation consultation will not have to be necessarily confined to civil servants and political executives. If larger sections of society want to participate in it in a disciplined and well-established format, we can go for it. There may be failures, there may be successes but the point is Indian democratic system is not stagnant. It is expressing itself in various formats.”

There are thousands of opinions on any important issue which have to be heard, the Finance Minister said.

COURTESY: INDIAN EXPRESS

Congress nervous over Hazare’s fast: Team Anna

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Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Sunday faced fresh attack with Congress saying he should first clarify “serious” findings against him of a Commission that probed graft charges while Government said his move was “undemocratic” and “unacceptable“.

Hitting out at the Gandhian who has planned to go on an indefinite fast in Delhi from Tuesday, Government also said the right to protest does not mean right to protest at the place of your choice.

The Government rejected the contention by the social activist that it was crushing his Constitutional rights by not allowing his protest at a desired venue and said the demand itself was unconstitutional and the protest at this time was an “affront” to Parliament.

“The right to protest does not mean right to protest at your choice. There is no right to protest at place of your choice and convenience,” Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said.

Addressing a news conference in Delhi,Mr. Sibal and Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni slammed Mr. Hazare for his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday, saying the language used in the letter is not Gandhian from any point of view.

Claiming that the “moral core” of Mr. Hazare has been “ripped apart” by the Justice P B Sawant Commission, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said, “The fast from August 16 has nothing to do with either the issue of corruption or the Lokpal bill.”

The Commission had probed corruption charges levelled by Hazare in 2003 against four ministers in the then Maharashtra government.

“The fast from August 16 has nothing to do with either the issue of corruption or the Lokpal bill. If that was the case Hazare would have first clarified the grave charges.

What is his clarification about the serious findings…The nation wants to know,” Tewari said, adding, “I think Hazare and his associates will need to answer conclusions of Sawant Commission.”

“Challenging Parliament”

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the social activist was challenging the constitutional authority of Parliament and asserted there is no third authority to make law.

He trained his guns on Mr. Hazare saying nobody can compel that it has to draft the law as per his desire.

“It is for Parliament to decide. What Anna Hazare is doing, he is challenging the constitutional authority of Parliament, which is not acceptable,” Mukherjee told reporters in Kolkata.

“So far the Constitution is concerned, it is not given to any individual. So far the laws made under List I of the Constitution, Parliament and Parliament alone is the competent authority to make law. So far the List II and concurrent list of the Constitution are concerned, it is the state assembly who are to make the law, there is no third authority to make law,” he said.

Asking if Anna can give a “guarantee” in writing that one instrument like Lokpal will end corruption, Soni said,” “people are being misled that corruption is out as soon as Lokpal is in.”

Reacting to Mr. Hazare’s allegation that the government was putting impediments in his proposed fast, Mr. Sibal said, “the right to protest does not mean right to protest at a place of your choince. There is no right to protest at place of your choice and convenience.”

He also cited judgements of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High court to support his stand.

“The protest is thoroughly unconstitutional…It is an affront to Parliament” he said questioning the purpose of the fast and alleging that there are some “other powers” behind all this and it has a different purpose.

Accusing Mr. Hazare of attempting to bring instability in the country, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari was also critical of Mr. Hazare for the tone and tenor of his letter to the Prime Minister and accused him of crossing all limits of decency and decorum.

Lokpal bill tabled, protests inside and outside House

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For the ninth time in four decades, the government introduced the highly publicised anti-graft lokpal bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday amid objections from the BJP and burning of its copies by Anna Hazare and his team. With the introduction of the bill seeking to set up an anti-corruption watchdog at the national level, the government honored its commitment made in April, but crossed swords as well with the opposition and also the Hazare-led group in the process.

The bill was introduced on eight previous occasions between 1968 and 2001, but lapsed each time with the dissolution of the respective Lok Sabha without any forward movement.

Within minutes of the bill being introduced, Hazare and his team burnt its copies in different parts of the country. “This is a bad and weak bill…I trusted them when they said they will bring a strong law and ended my fast in April. They cheated me,” Hazare said in his village in Maharashtra.

The government strongly disapproved of the action. “To burn this bill publicly is an insult to Parliament,” telecom minister Kapil Sibal told reporters.

The BJP challenged the constitutional validity of the bill, saying the government’s decision to exclude the prime minister from the lokpal’s ambit “violated constitutional equality”, but the government trashed the allegation, charging the BJP with indulging in “political opportunism and doublespeak.”

As soon as minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy introduced the bill, leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj stood up against the exclusion of the prime minister from the ambit of the watchdog.

“While all other laws, such as the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act are applicable to all, why should the lokpal bill exclude the prime minister?” she asked.

Swaraj reminded the government that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his capacity as chairman of a parliamentary standing committee in 2001, had recommended bringing the prime minister under the lokpal’s purview.

Mukherjee countered her by saying though her contention is true, but the NDA government had failed implement the recommendation for two years.

Narayanasamy said the bill, once introduced, was now a property of the House and it would be referred to a parliamentary standing committee, which could decide on all the issues raised by Swaraj.

Several opposition members supported Swaraj’s argument, but Speaker Meira Kumar overruled their objections and admitted the bill’s introduction.

BJP: illogical, unconstitutional

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Keeping the Prime Minister out of the purview of the proposed Lokpal Bill is “illogical” and even “unconstitutional,” Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said here on Thursday as she explained why the Bharatiya Janata Party had opposed the measure at the introduction stage itself. Ms. Swaraj said she was allowed to place her objections in the Lok Sabha, although normally a member could, at the introduction stage, question only the legislative competence of the House to pass the proposed legislation, which was not the case now.

The Constitution gave no person holding any office immunity from criminal prosecution and the BJP’s objection is that the Bill giving the Prime Minister immunity is “constitutionally invalid.” The existing penal laws and the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 also do not exclude action against the Prime Minister. It is therefore “illogical” to keep him out of the purview of the proposed legislation, argued Ms. Swaraj and her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley. Although the National Democratic Alliance government between 1998 and 2004 did not get a Lokpal Bill passed, Ms. Swaraj said the party’s stand had been consistent for, the draft legislation of 2001 included the Prime Minister. “We have been consistent. It is the Congress which has changed its stance as Pranab Mukherjee, as chairman of the standing committee that looked at the Bill then, favoured inclusion of the Prime Minister.”

EQUALITY

Mr. Jaitley said the exclusion of the Prime Minister violated the constitutional guarantee of equality before law; two, the Lokpal Bill would come out with a procedure for looking at corruption in high places and any punishment would be decided on the basis of the Prevention of Corruption Act which did not give the Prime Minister any immunity and three, normally any corruption case against a Prime Minister would involve charges against one or more Ministers and bureaucrats who would be involved in a conspiracy to defraud the state. The law should not separate the individuals in a conspiracy and deal with them differently.

In response to questions, Ms. Swaraj clarified that her party had no objection to granting exemption to the Prime Minister in issues and decisions involving national security.

JUDICIAL COMMISSION

Asked why the BJP was not insisting on the higher judiciary also being covered by the Lokpal Bill on the same principle of constitutional guarantee of equality, Mr. Jaitley said the party favoured a separate national judicial commission for this purpose as that would ensure “separation” of the executive and the judiciary. As an executive-dominated committee would select a Lokpal, it would not be correct to bring the judiciary under that institution. In this context, he said an “alternative” must be found to “the current system of judges appointing judges and judges punishing judges” for, that had simply not worked.

Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Jaitley said the BJP would present its view forcefully before the standing committee when the Bill was discussed. When the Prime Minister could be investigated by the ordinary police or the Central Bureau of Investigation, it was “illogical” to keep him/her out of the purview of the Lokpal, they said.

Keeping PM under Lokpal ambit not advisable: PM

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Bringing the office of Prime Minister under the ambit of lokpal would “not be advisable”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday. Singh, who had earlier stated that he was not against the office of the Prime Minister being brought under the lokpal’s purview, told reporters that the government has taken the decision after “taking all factors into account”.

“Well, our government has taken a view taking all factors into account. It would not be advisable to bring the Prime Minister within the purview of the lokpal, except when he demits office,” Singh said on the eve of Parliament‘s Monsoon Session. The lokpal bill would be introduced in Lok Sabha by August 3.

On Anna Hazare‘s threat to go on a fast from August 16 to protest a “weak” lokpal bill, Singh said the lokpal bill’s fate will be decided by Parliament.

“As you know, we are ready with the lokpal bill. Lokpal bill’s fate will be decided by Parliament. In a democracy, Parliament is a sovereign body, it should be allowed to function and discharge its duty,” he said.

At the July 28 Cabinet meeting which cleated the lokpal bill, Singh had insisted that his office should be brought within the ambit of the legislation, but the Cabinet decided otherwise.

His comments came a day after finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said bringing the Prime Minister under the lokpal would result in “institutionalised permanent instability” at the Centre.

Written by THE LAWFILE

July 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm