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Govt needs to change its attitude towards Lokpal Bill: Prashant Bhushan

By Onkar Singh
May 31, 2011 10:54 IST
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Talks on the Lokpal Bill are not progressing as expected and if the attitude of the government does not change it may spell disaster soon, said Prashant Bhushan, one of the five members of the Anna Hazare-led civil society group, who is on the drafting panel of the Bill. 

"I would not say that the talks have already reached a break point. Yes, there are serious differences between the people's representatives on the committee and their government counterparts. If the government representatives continue to obstruct the talks it is likely to head nowhere," he said.

Asked why he was so pessimistic about the future of the talks, Bhushan said that the Bill, which the government planned to introduce in the next session of Parliament, was to include the prime minister under its purview. "But now they are backing out on that as well," he added.

"Just because four or five members have written letters opposing the move to extend Lokpal's jurisdiction to the PMO, the attitude of the government representatives has changed substantially. So what is the point of continuing the talks," asked the activist lawyer.

Reacting to Hazare's statement that he would hit the streets again if there was a breakdown in talks, Bhushan said the government would be responsible if such a situation were to arise.

Asked why the civil society members wanted to become an extra-constitutional authority while the government maintained that the Constitution of India is supreme, he replied, "We do not want to become an extra-constitutional authority. This is an image that is being portrayed by the government." 

'Why no women on draft panel?'

Meanwhile, Geeta Luthra, a Delhi high court advocate, lamented that while such an important issue was being debated in the country, the ten-member draft panel did not comprise even a single woman representative. 

"While discussing an important issue like this the least that could have been done was to have one woman legal luminary like Justice Ruma Pal (former Supreme Court judge) on the panel. The panel has no representative from the opposition parties. It should be broad-based and people from all spheres of life including journalism should have been made members. Why should 10 members alone decide what is good for the Lokpal Bill," Luthra told

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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