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'Lokpal bill will just be a face saving exercise'

Last updated on: June 16, 2011 11:09 IST

'Lokpal bill will just be a face saving exercise'

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Vicky Nanjappa

Consensus continues to elude the Lokpal Bill draft. Nothing concrete emerged out of Wednesday's meeting except for a war of words between the central government and the civil society representatives.

While on the streets people are beginning to jokingly refer to the bill as Log Jam bill, those in the midst of things are having second thoughts about its effectiveness.

Justice N Santhosh Hegde, member of the drafting committee, says: "It is sure going to be a no impact bill and I really do not have any great expectations from it says." The former Supreme Court judge, who is also the Lokayukta of Karnataka, has been a target of many Congress leaders. On Wednesday night he was even termed as a man of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Here is what Justice Hegde has to say on the Lokpal bill and the comments passed against him by Congress leaders.

"The Lokpal bill would go through. However, I would also add that it would do so only as a face saving excercise. People want the bill and hence there is no way in which the government can scuttle it entirely."

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Image: Justice Santosh Hegde

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'In the end, the bill will be a no impact bill'

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"The big question is what type of a bill would it be? When we set out, it was clear that it would virtually cover all those in power and powers would be given to act against those corrupt politicians and officials. However, when I look at things today, I am sorry to say that the final bill may not include a lot of clauses, which we have sought to include.

"No Prime Minister, no judiciary, restricted jurisdiction and also no powers to probe into military deals, which are suspect in nature. Well I am afraid that these clauses may not make it to the final bill, as the government is adamant that it does not want them there. To cut a long story short, the bill will be a no impact bill at the end of it and will not have any useful jurisdiction on the Lok Pal.

"I am thoroughly disappointed. Initially when we all met things were cordial. We could see that the government had an open mind and was agreeing to a lot of the clauses suggested by us. However, on the fourth day there were signs of resistance. They said they wanted to consult the states and also the political parties, which we had no objection to. Then things did go haywire."



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'We are not suggesting that everything that we say should be accepted'

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"We are not suggesting that everything that we say should be accepted, but healthy consultations would not have harmed anyone. Then started the war of words and the talks became more and more aggressive.

"Basically everything that we said was made into an issue. However, Wednesday's meeting was the last straw and none of the issues raised by us were taken up. There is a meeting on June 20 and June 21, and I am confident that nothing concrete would come out of it either."

On the Congress allegation of he being a BJP man, Justice Hegde said: "I have really nothing to say about this. These politicians have no status. I have no idea why they chose to comment on me every now and then. Well if you are asking me for the reasons behind these comments, I am really not in a position to tell you why."



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'We need to play the game in the right spirit'

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"It was said that it could be a precursor to the mining report slated to be relased later this month. However, I refuse to believe that these comments are a precursor. No one really knows what is in that report and trust me I have not spared anyone in that report. I really do not want to attack all these persons for what they have been saying. I will submit the report which will speak for itself."

"I do not think these comments have anything to do with the mining report. It started with Law Minister Veerappa Moily. Then Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh came into the picture and started making comments despite not knowing the ABCD of Karnataka. His comments were followed by statements by B K Hariprasad and Janardhan Poojary (both Congress leaders). What I noticed was that each time the intensity of the comments became more and more."

"I have no regrets though and I do not think taking up the post of Lokayukta was wrong on my part. I may have failed in some areas, but I have given my best shot. I will be writing to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee shortly. I would like to tell him that I was a sportsman and I have learnt to take things in the right spirit. I have always adopted the Olympic motto where winning is not everything. Participation is more important and we need to play the game in the right spirit."



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