New Delhi, Aug 17: Insisting that there was no wrongdoing in the arrest of Anna Hazare, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said the government would deal with him “administratively and politically” but made it clear that his Jan Lokpal Bill was not acceptable.
Replying to a debate on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement on Hazare episode, Chidambaram asserted that making laws was the sovereign right of Parliament although the views of civil society could be taken on board.
He said “respected” Hazare has the “undoubted right” to protest “as long as he wants” but subject to certain conditions and hoped he would do so.
Narrating the sequence of events that led to Hazare's arrest, Chidambaram argued that it was not the first time that Section 144 of CrPC was invoked and that the activist had been held for the intent to violate prohibitory orders.
“If there is apprehension of breach of peace, there can be arrest as a preventive measure... In this case it was quite clear that Hazare was going to violate Sec 144,” he said, adding that decisions about Hazare's arrest were taken by the police and he was kept informed.
Chidambaram said Hazare had conveyed this to the police officers who met him at an apartment in Mayur Vihar locality.
“I salute him. As a true Gandhian he said he will go to Jai Prakash Narayan park and violate the prohibitory orders,” he said.
“What wrong did we do? No force was used. No one was injured,” he said while terming Hazare's arrest as “inevitably unfortunate”.
Chidambaram said it was an administrative decision but getting him released from court was a political decision.
“We will deal with Hazare issue politically and administratively, fairly and justly and dispassionately, and without any bias,” Chidambaram said, responding to a question from JD-U leader Sharad Yadav.
Referring to Hazare's demand for enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill, he said, “There is a case for a Lokpal Bill and the Jan Lokpal Bill. Their demand is not a Lokpal but Jan Lokpal. They (Hazare's team) say unless the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed we will continue our protest.”
Questioning whether this should be accepted, he said, “I don't accept. I accept the demand of Anna Hazare for a strong and effective Lokpal but I reject his argument that only his Jan Lokpal is passed.”
He described as an “astonishing statement”, Hazare's comments that he has faith in Parliament but no faith in elected members of Parliament.
“Do not diminish the sovereign right of Parliament to make laws. The day this right is diminished even my one millimetre that will be the saddest day.... The people have the right to vote us in and vote us out of Parliament but no right to make a law. That right has been given to us by the people,” he said.
Talking about Hazare's case, he said the police did not seek judicial custody for him and the magistrate also told him that he would release him if he gave a bond. “But as a true Gandhian, he refused,” Chidambaram said, adding he was not criticising and it was not a laughable matter.
When Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj noted that Hazare was arrested from Mayur Vihar although prohibitory orders were not in place there, Chidambaram said the action was taken for his intent to violate.
To justify his point, the Home Minister mentioned that L K Advani had also once been arrested in Bihar under this law when Lalu Prasad was chief minister although the senior BJP leader had not physically violated the prohibitory order.
He was referring to Advani's arrest during his Somnath-Ayodhya rath yatra of 1990.
Prasad said the arrest was ordered by R K Singh, the then district magistrate, who is now the union Home Secretary.
Chidambaram said between 1998 and 2004 when Advani was Home Minister, Section 144 CrPC was invoked 27 times at Jantar Mantar including against some Congress activists. PTI