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Cannot rewrite constitution for Lokpal: PC
Published on 5 Jul. 2011 12:32 AM IST
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The government was committed to tabling the anti-corruption Lokpal bill in parliament’s monsoon session beginning Aug 1 but won’t rewrite the constitution for the legislation, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Monday.
Addressing a media conference, a day after an all-party meeting agreed that a “strong and effective” bill should be introduced in the next session of parliament, Chidambaram was noncommittal on when the legislation would be passed because it would have to be referred to a standing committee for broader consensus. This means that Lokpal (ombudsman) bill would have to wait for the winter session in mid-November to be passed.
“We will bring (the) bill in the monsoon session of parliament.
That bill will be examined according to established procedures... Members of parliament desire to follow the established procedures,” the home minister said at the press conference that was also addressed by Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal.
Chidambaram was categorical in saying that the final draft bill would be in accordance with the constitution of India as the government didn’t consider it as “an occasion to rewrite the constitution”.
He said an “aspect” established at the all-party meeting was that the bill must be within the constitution.
“We are drafting a bill and the bill will be within the constitution. That point was emphasised more than once (in the meeting),” he said.
Asked whether referring the bill to a standing committee would mean a delay, at least till the winter session, in seeing the measure through, HRD minister Sibal said: “We had said we are committed to bring the bill. We will keep the promise. We never said it would be passed in the monsoon session.”
The all-party meeting was part of the government’s efforts to evolve a consensus on the anti-graft bill after it failed to do so in the meetings of a joint drafting committee comprising five nominees of social reformer Anna Hazare and five central ministers.
The drafting panel was divided on several issues, including inclusion of the prime minister and the judiciary under the purview of the proposed Lokpal. Two drafts of the proposed bill have thus emerged.
Chidambaram clarified that it was not the draft prepared by the ministers on the panel that will be submitted to parliament. He said this draft would be refined to be allowed to follow “established procedures”.
“What was presented (at the all party meeting) is a draft. It will go to departments and ministries concerned. It will be sent to the nodal ministry (before being referred to the cabinet). The cabinet will finalise the draft. The draft approved by the cabinet will be introduced in parliament.”
Chidambaram said that the “government is very happy with the all-party meeting yesterday”.
“It took place in a very cordial atmosphere. And we are confident that we can take the process forward, bring the bill in the monsoon session and try to get it passed as soon as possible,” he said.
Asked about Hazare’s threat to launch a hunger strike from Aug 16, in case the bill was not made into law by then, Chidambaram said it was “premature” to predict what would happen in the future as the government will bring the bill that “will satisfy the vast majority of this country”.
“Why do you consider it (fast) as inevitable? I don’t think we should assume. It is too premature,” he said.
The home minister played down the differences within the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) over the issue, saying the ruling combine was “not a political party”.
“It is a coalition. There will be some differences. It only means that we should talk and arrive at a consensus.”

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