Pune, Apr 16: Ahead of the first meeting of the committee that his fast helped create, Gandhian Anna Hazare said today that, in his view, the higher judiciary should not be brought under the purview of Lokpal Bill, reports Indian Express.
“When the Lokpal Bill comes into force, there has to be an authority to deliver verdicts on the cases that will come up and that authority cannot be subservient to the Bill. Hence, I have suggested that the higher judiciary should not be covered under Lokpal,” Hazare told The Indian Express as he travelled from Ralegan Siddhi to Pune en route to New Delhi.
He added: “This is my thought right now. I need to discuss this with my colleagues, who are legal experts, and only then will a final decision be taken.”
Reiterating that higher judicial posts like that of the Chief Justice have to be above reproach, Hazare said that these posts should be kept away from the Bill. “I will put forth this proposal at the meeting and see what is the response of the others,” he said.
His colleagues on the panel, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal, claimed later in the evening, at a press conference, that his remarks had been “misinterpreted” and that the group had decided that the judiciary would be a part of it.
Kejriwal said Hazare did tell the reporter that it is possible that Chief Justice of India could be kept out of the jurisdiction of Lokpal but after a meeting of the five members, it was decided that no one will be exempt from the purview.
“If we can keep the Prime Minister accountable to the Lokpal, why not CJI. No one is above law. Under the present system, if there is allegation of bribery against judge of High Court or Supreme Court, an ordinary policeman can register an FIR only after seeking permission from Chief Justice of India. There is no law where such permission is required. Despite strong documentary evidence, the successive Chief Justices have hesitated in giving permissions for registration of case,” said Prashant Bhushan.
Said a statement issued by the non-government members on the group: “We propose that rather than an ordinary policeman being able to register a case, investigate and prosecute a judge, it should be done by a special investigative team of Lokpal headed by senior officer. However, Lokpal will not have powers to award punishment. The case would go to normal courts for trial.”