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Rediff.com  » News » Let the govt have its own Lokpal Bill: Justice Hegde

Let the govt have its own Lokpal Bill: Justice Hegde

May 31, 2011 13:30 IST

The Lokpal Bill, which seeks to curb corruption, has run into rough weather after the government objected strongly to certain clauses.

The bone of contention during Monday's meeting between representatives of the civil society and the Union government was the proposed inclusion of both the prime minister and the judiciary within the purview of the Lokpal bill.

Justice Santosh Hegde, one of the members of the drafting panel, sounded extremely irritated while speaking about the proceedings.

"If they (the government) don't agree to what we are saying then I am afraid they will have to formulate a bill without us," said Hegde.

"We were all quite taken aback when they changed their stand about the inclusion of the prime minister within the bill's jurisdiction. What do they mean when they say 'we want to discuss the issue again and we will need to take a call on their own'? On one hand they speak about an open discussion and on the other they commit this volte-face," said Hegde.

He added, "Look at the Lokpal Bill introduced last year. The prime minister falls under its jurisdiction. So, it beats me why they would want the PM omitted from the bill now. I am afraid that it appears to be a delaying tactic," he said.

Taking a strong stance on the issue, he said, "How can they re-prepare something that already exists? If they want to argue with us on this, then we do not want to be part of it, let it be their own bill."

He added that the government has also opposed the inclusion of the judiciary within the ambit of the bill, arguing that the Judges Accountability Bill was also under process.

"The government appears to be clinging on to the Veeraswamy judgment which states that no inquiry shall be conducted against a judge without the permission of the chief justice. The Judges Accountability Bill speaks about provisions to deal with judges in cases of misconduct only. So what do you do when there is corruption in the judiciary?" Hegde asked.

"We told the government that let the judiciary come under the purview of the Lokpal Bill, later we'll see if they include provisions of corruption into the Judges Accountability Bill. But nothing has happened with that bill since 2006," said Hegde.

The anti-corruption official pointed out that Lokpal Bill of 1966 had clearly mentioned that a seven-member bench comprising representatives of the judicial community will decide whether a case of corruption should be registered against a judge.

"Which is better -- a seven member bench deciding the issue or one CJI," Hegde sought to know.

He admitted that the Lokpal Bill was unlikely to meet its August 15 deadline due to these hitches.

"The draft bill is supposed to be ready by June 30. We will then discuss it with the state governments, political parties and the public. This process will be time-consuming and it is not simple," he said.

Vicky Nanjappa