We are NOT afraid of our NGOs being investigated: Kejriwal
Team Anna on Tuesday expressed disappointment over the exclusion of lower bureaucracy and the Criminal Bureau of Investigation's probe wing from under the Lokpal's purview in the draft report of Parliamentary Standing Committee, but opposed bringing private NGOs and the media under its ambit.
Reacting to the panel's draft report, activist Arvind Kejriwal sought to remind the government of the Parliamentary resolution that led to Anna Hazare ending his fast on August 28, saying he hoped it would be respected.
"When Anna ended his fast, Parliament agreed to a resolution that stated clearly on lower bureaucracy and Citizen's Charter. We just hope that resolution is respected," Kejriwal said.
He said Group C and D employees were responsible for corruption affecting the common man and excluding them from the anti-corruption agency's purview will render it meaningless.
Image: Arvind Kejriwal
'There is a lot of corruption in NGOs'
When asked for her comments on the issue, activist Kiran Bedi said, "This is going back on the commitment and this will encourage a mass movement again."
Kejriwal also expressed apprehension over the inclusion of all NGOs under the Lokpal's purview, saying this would make matters "more confusing".
"We fully agree that there is a lot of corruption in NGOs as well as in the media, but Lokpal as it was envisioned since 1968 is meant to be an agency that will cover corruption as defined by the Prevention of Corruption Act.
"To deal with NGOs there is a Registrar of Society and Trust Act. We need to strengthen it but we demand inclusion of government-funded NGOs as they come under the purview of PCA. For media, the Press Council should be strengthened," he said.
Image: Kiran Bedi
'The system will collapse in four days'
He said other laws are needed to be strengthened to deal with corruption in media and NGOs. Bringing a huge number of NGOs under the Lokpal's ambit, he said, "would make things confusing".
Bedi welcomed the proposal to bring corporates, media and NGOs under the ambit of Lokpal.
But Kejriwal said, "It is not that we are afraid of our NGOs being investigated. We are not. Put our NGOs under investigation, we do not mind. But for such organisations, the Registrar of Society and Trust Act needs to be strengthened, we are ready for it."
The activist also did not agree to the draft report's recommendation on the Citizen's Charter, which has been one of the main demands of Team Anna's Lokpal movement.
"Having only five members in the state capital to look into the complaints of an entire state instead of officials at each block level, as demanded by us, will lead to the system collapsing in four days," he said.
Image: A rangoli depicting activist Anna Hazare and his movement against corruption
'Every government has misused the CBI'
Kejriwal also came down heavily on the move to keep the CBI out of the purview of the Lokpal, saying without the government relinquishing its control over the investigating agency, the Lokpal would be like an "empty tin".
"The nation knows that every government has misused the CBI for its benefit," he said, while also expressing disappointment about leaving the judiciary out of the ambit of Lokpal.
Asked if these disagreements meant that the situation was back to square one, Kejriwal said his team was still adopting the "wait and watch" approach.
'Corruption in judiciary is covered nowhere'
"It would be premature to comment on this. Many processes still remain. Let us wait and watch," he said.
Bedi called the exclusion of judiciary a setback to people's demands as people "overwhelmingly" wanted judiciary to be included. "By this, corruption in judiciary is covered nowhere, neither in the Judicial Accountability Bill nor in Lokpal," he said.
Reacting to members unanimously recommending conferring constitutional status on Lokpal, Bedi expressed the apprehension that, "This may become the reason for not having it".
"For the government in power does not have a two thirds majority in Parliament. It will be used to not pass the bill," she said.
Image: Supreme Court of India