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Govt opposed to bringing PM under Lokpal: Kapil Sibal
New Delhi, Jun 18 (IANS):
Published on 18 Jun. 2011 11:41 PM IST
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The government Saturday said it was “prima facie” against bringing the post of prime minister under the ambit of Lokpal, but once he leaves the office he could be “prosecuted” for wrong-doings.
“Within the government, we feel prima facie, the prime minister should not be covered (under the ambit of Lokpal),” union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said here.
“But at the same time, we want to make sure that if he demits office, he should not be exonerated from prosecution,” Sibal told Karan Thapar in CNN-IBN’s “Devil’s Advocate” programme.
The central government and civil society activists, led by Gandhian Anna Hazare, are engaged in a war of words for over a month over various “fundamental issues”, including bringing the prime minister, judges and bureaucrats under the ambit of Lokpal.
Sibal, who is one of the government representative on the 10-member drafting committee, however, clarified that the government will only decide on the issue after the draft bill goes to the cabinet.
He said the five ministers on the committee were willing to be persuaded to bring the prime minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption legislation if the civil society gives a compelling argument.
The government members are Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is co-chairman of panel, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
With the civil society sticking to its demand for bringing the prime minister under the Lokpal, the Congress core committee Friday also met to take a call on the issue. In fact, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said earlier that he was “open” to the idea of bringing the post under the Lokpal.
Sibal said it was not the question of “an individual, Manmohan Singh, but it’s about an institution”.
“Which prime minister in office anywhere in the world has been prosecuted in the world? Please tell me, please give me an example,” he argued. He said people rallied behind Anna Hazare during his protest as they were upset with corruption but most of them do not know what is the Lokpal bill.
“Anna Hazare is like the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’. The tune is lilting and people were upset with corruption just as the government is. We want to deal with it. But those who follow him.. do not know what the Lokpal bill is,” Sibal added.
The 10-member drafting committee was formed after Hazare in April launched a mass movement against corruption in high places by sitting on a hunger strike at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. The government acceded to his demand and set up the committee to draft a strong Lokpal bill.
During its seventh meeting Wednesday, a decision was taken that two versions - one of the ministers and one of the civil society - would be presented to the cabinet, which will take the final call. The last meeting of the committee is slated for Monday and Tuesday.

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