New Delhi, Oct 11: Yet another instance of the sharp divisions between Union Ministers and Team Anna Members came to surface when they discussed structure and powers of the proposed Lokpal during their meetings.
During the conversations, Home Minister summed the key difference on Lokpal envisaged by civil society activists as “executive oversight authority” while that proposed by government being a “quasi-judicial authority”. This was refuted by activist Arvind Kejriwal saying there was not “much difference”.
The deliberations of Joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, comprising 5 Team Anna members and and an equal number of Cabinet Ministers, were made public by the Department of Personnel and Training in response to an RTI application.
The nine-part CD contains among other things discussions between the ministers and civil society members over the powers and structures to be vested in the anti-corruption watchdog.
In one such conversation, activist Anna Hazare wanted to know if an ordinary person acquires proof of corruption at grassroot level, where should he go?
The government proposed that the Lokpal should limit itself to corruption complaints of “group A level” officers but can take a call if allegations pertained to lower bureacracy. The activists however wanted entire bureaucracy to be brought under the Lokpal.
On the issue of checking corruption within Lokpal, lawyer Prashant Bhushan suggested four-layered process including a separate authority to hear complaints against them. “What would be the size of structure? Starting from the village level that Annaji is suggesting?” Finance Minister and Chairman of drafting committee Pranab Mukherjee asked.
“Our estimate shows that total staff strength for Lokpal could be about 10-15 thousand,” Kejriwal said.
“What is your basis? What Annaji told that even the money given for developmental activities is not reaching the people. It is surely because of corruption. Lokpal will look into it. 11 member Lokpal sitting in Delhi cannot do it. Certain number of Lokayuktas sitting in state capitals cannot do it. You will have a structure...administrative structure and you are saying 10,000,” Mukherjee asked.
Lawyer Shanti Bhushan said once people start going to jail corruption will come down to which Mukherjee said this was just his “assesment and value judgment”. Home Minister P Chidambaram said even today people are going to jail but that has not stopped corruption.
“I hope your words come true. Point is not that. Point is the Lokpal you envisaged is really an executive authority which supervises an anti-corruption, anti-disciplinary machinery. Its an executive authority of highly qualified disntinguished people.
“The Lokpal we envisaged...is a quasi-judicial authority which will give findings of charge of corruption proved or not again in bracket in respect of high places. We can define what high places are and we can take it down to level we want,” the Home Minister said.
“There isn't much difference,” Kejriwal said.
“There are four million government servants. Even for the eight lakh personnel of paramilitary organisations we require hundreds of officers to look into complaints of corruption,” he said. PTI