Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley has written to activist Anna Hazare, who is currently on an indefinite fast to demand the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Here is the letter:
I have received your letter dated November 30, 2013 in relation to the Lokpal. My party and I am fully committed to the highest norms of public accountability and therefore believe that the Lokpal should be brought into force immediately.
I am writing to you to remove any possibility of misunderstanding on this issue which is indicated in your letter.
The Bill which was approved by the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011 was neither the Jan Lokpal nor had it measured up to our expectations. The government used its majority in the Lok Sabha to pass this Bill which would have created the Lokpal not as an independent institution but as a government controlled entity.
Surely, creation of a Sarkari Lokpal could not be your objective or ours. The Bill in this regard was taken up in the Rajya Sabha on December 29. The entire Opposition rallied against the provisions contained in the Bill as passed by the Lok Sabha which sought to create the Sarkari Lokpal.
Since we were committed to passing the legislation of the Lokpal ,instead of the same being rejected, we suggested major amendments which would have created the Lokpal as a credible institution.
We had numbers on our side if those amendments would have been carried out. The amended Bill then could have been referred back to the Lok Sabha for reconsideration. The brief of points made by me in the Rajya Sabha are enclosed to this letter.
However, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha chose to adjourn the House sine die, thus denying the country an opportunity where one House passed the Bill for the creation of a credible Lokpal institution.
Thereafter, the Bill was referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. I was one of the Members of the Select Committee. My party made a presentation through its members Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Bhupender Yadav and myself with regard to our proposals before the Select Committee. A copy of those proposals which constitutes the commitment of my party is annexed to this letter.
The Select Committee accepted a large number of our proposals but did not accept some of them. The Select Committee report is to be placed before the Parliament. It is only the Parliament which is entitled to amend/accept the same.
However, the government has erroneously chosen to place the report before the Cabinet on January 31, 2013 and further diluted the recommendations. I have taken a public position against this policy which is contained in my article dated February 1, 2013. I raised this issue in the Rajya Sabha on the March 6, 2013.
Even then this diluted Bill is not being listed on the agenda for discussion. It appears that the government is not sincere in getting it placed on the said agenda. I can assure you in view of the public position my party has adopted that we will be second to none in pursuing this issue. I am sending this detailed response to your letter so that the position my party and I have taken becomes clear.