Thursday, August 2, 2012

Keep reservation out of Lokpal panel: Team Anna

A face-off between Team Anna and MPs from several regional parties is imminent on the issue of reservation in Lokpal. While at least five regional parties have demanded reservation in the institution of Lokpal, Team Anna has expressed strong reservations over the issue.
“There should not be any reservation in the 11-member Lokpal. Reservation may be implemented in the investigative machinery,” Prominent member of Team Anna and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan told The Pioneer.
The stand taken by Team Anna clashes with that of leaders like Janata Dal (U) president Sharad Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Ram Vilas Paswan, who have demanded reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities in Lokpal.
The rationale of these parties is that the Lokpal’s actions would go against these sections of the society if they are not represented properly in the ombudsman body. All these parties are also represented in the 31-member Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice, whose term expired last month and is awaiting reconstitution.
Making a forceful speech in the Lok Sabha on issues related to Lokpal Bill in the Monsoon Session which ended just last week, JD (U) president advocated proper representation for various sections of the society in Lokpal.
Aiming at highlighting the virtues and importance of proper representation of various communities, Sharad Yadav said the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies are a mirror of the society and represent the true character of the country, which was not to be found anywhere else. He demanded that the Lokpal should also reflect the same character.
Mayawati too has demanded reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities. She has even gone to the extent of threatening that her party would not support the Bill if Dalits and minorities did not get their share in the anti-corruption watchdog body.
Lalu has stressed on the inclusion of OBCs, SCs and Muslims in any committee which is constituted for the Lokpal mechanism.
Echoing similar sentiments, Mulayam said the Lokpal would be considered an appropriate one only if it gives proper representation to SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities. Paswan, who was a member in the previous Standing Committee on Lokpal, demanded reservation for these sections in the selection committee itself.

Quota in Lokpal likely, Team Anna agreeable to the idea

TNN Dec 17, 2011, 02.07AM IST

NEW DELHI: Even as government walks the thin line in reaching a consensus on contentious issues in the Lokpal bill, there appears to be a strong possibility that there will be provision for reservations in the legislation. This has been a demand from the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Janata Dal-Lok Janshakti Party combine to introduce quote for backward castes, SCs, STs, minorities and women in the Lokpal.
The demand for quota, which was seen as a diversionary ploy when it was first raised, has gained such traction that many parties are supporting it. LJP's Ram Vilas Paswan raised the issue in the all-party meeting on Wednesday and it was not opposed by anyone.
Keeping the sensitivities in mind, Team Anna too has come round to the opinion that the proposed Lokpal can have reservations according to government policy. However, Team Anna member and SC lawyer Prashant Bhushan said having reservation in the Lokpal panel would not be a good idea though the selection committee and employees in the Lokpal institution could reflect the country's diverse views.
The move comes at a time when the government is putting the final touches to the Lokpal bill. Among the issues that have put the government in a bind is Team Anna's demand for inclusion of lower bureaucracy and citizens' charter within the Lokpal. Both demands have met with support from the opposition - including BJP and Left - leaving the government in a tight spot.
The government's dilemma is compounded by activist Anna Hazare's threat that he would launch his third indefinite fast from December 27. Hazare has upped the ante further, asking followers to court arrest from January 1.
Bhushan said, "If the government tables a strong Lokpal and gives an assurance that the bill will be passed in the next few weeks - whether through an extended session or a special session - we would be willing to put off the agitation.''
Another issue that has eluded unanimity is the inclusion of CBI. Activists want the anti-corruption wing of CBI to be under Lokpal though the agency itself is opposed to being split.
Standing committee chairman Abishek Manu Singhvi said there was a lot of uninformed debate regarding the recommendations made by the Lokpal report on CBI. "It is important to remove certain factual misconception regarding discussions on CBI in the standing committee report. The report discusses an intention to discuss only corruption cases proposed to be dealt with in the Lokpal. It is only to that extent that that the observation regarding CBI have been made. For example, the CBI also deals with non-Prevention of Corruption Act like economic offences cases or ordinary crimes like murder or cases referred to by state governments or Supreme Court or high courts. I have given you five categories where Lokpal has no role to play, so there has been no discussion. However there is a lot of uninformed discussion on issues not intended to be changed,'' Singhvi said.
He added that the recommendations dealt with cases referred to by the Lokpal both in terms of taking up the case by the CBI, filing of preliminary inquiry and intimation of filing a chargesheet. "I fail to understand comments by civil society and government agencies,'' he said.

New Lokpal Bill worse: Team Anna

Team Anna on Thursday rejected the Lokpal Bill and demanded that a new Bill be brought in that will make the CBI independent. Addressing a press conference, Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said the new Bill was "worse" than the legislation introduced in August, alleging that the government does not want a comprehensive anti-graft ombudsman.
Describing the new Bill as "anti-people and dangerous", he said the proposed legislation is meant to crush the rights enjoyed by people. "Only 10 per cent of the political leaders are in the Bill. Only five per cent of employees are in its ambit. Big companies are out of it...The government thinks that all citizens are corrupt but the leaders and employees are clean," he said.
Kejriwal claimed that the Bill would make CBI "completely ineffective". "Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition will not want a strong CBI director. They don't want to put their lives in difficulty by having a strong CBI director," he said.
On the issue of reservation for minorities in the Lokpal, former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde strongly opposed the idea. "Quota in government jobs is acceptable but look at the judiciary, there is no reservation there. There are enough good people available among SCs/STs and minorities. Select them on merit, why do you need reservation?" he asked. Shanti Bhushan, another Team Anna member, said the matter of reservation had nothing to do with the corruption issue and was best left to Parliament.
Manish Sisodia added, "The word minorities was dropped from the draft deliberately because the government knew very well that the omission would bring smaller parties on their feet. It is a ploy to take the focus off anti-corruption. The BJP is catering to its own constituency when it says it will not accept minority quota." Kiran Bedi, on being asked if she saw an ulterior motive in the dropping of the word from the draft, said, "I have no evidence to comment either way but I have a feeling that Lokpal Bill will go the women's reservation way."

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