Cabinet drafts Lokpal bill, activists say too weak

NEW DELHI Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:44am IST

Veteran social activist Anna Hazare speaks during a news conference after attending a meeting of the newly-constituted joint committee comprising of ministers and civil society activists to draft an anti-graft law, the Lokpal bill, in New Delhi June 16, 2011. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

Veteran social activist Anna Hazare speaks during a news conference after attending a meeting of the newly-constituted joint committee comprising of ministers and civil society activists to draft an anti-graft law, the Lokpal bill, in New Delhi June 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi/Files

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The cabinet on Thursday finished drafting the Lokpal bill aimed at curbing graft in the government, but activists slammed it saying it was not tough enough to fight widespread corruption which poses a risk to economic growth.

The bill seeks to set up a Lokpal to investigate charges of corruption against ministers and lawmakers, but does not cover the prime minister, judges and bureaucrats.

The bill will need parliamentary approval to become law. It is set to be introduced in parliament next week, Law Minister Salman Khursheed said.

"It has been this government's agenda to bring greater transparency in functioning, this is an example of that," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said.

Slamming the bill as too weak because it did not cover the prime minister and judges, Anna Hazare, the social activist whose hunger strike in April forced the government to begin drafting the bill, said he would begin a second fast against corruption, raising the sceptre of a fresh wave of anti-government protests.

"They have not cheated Anna Hazare, they have cheated the country's people," Anna Hazare, an activist whose four-day long fast for the bill in April drew wide support from a public angered by a slew of graft scandals, told Times Now television.

"For this reason I, along with the entire nation, will sit on protest ... till I have no life in my body.

"People have to take this as another battle for independence and take to the streets to fight corruption."

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has taken on the government over graft, said it did not "appreciate" the non-inclusion of the prime minister in the bill.

Khursheed said bringing a serving prime minister in the Lokpal's remit would affect his ability to work effectively.

He added that the law permitted a probe after the prime minister's term had ended.

"Anyone who challenges this procedure is not challenging the government of the day, is actually challenging the parliament of our country. It is for them to decide if they want to challenge the parliament of our country or not," he said.

India ranks 78 on Transparency International's global list of corruption perceptions and global consultancy KPMG has said graft could stunt the country's economic growth.

Hazare's fast in April had struck a chord with tens of thousands of Indians fed up with a series of corruption scandals in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's second term, which have been linked to members of his government and party.

Last month, yoga guru Swami Ramdev and thousands of his followers staged a mass hunger strike in New Delhi to demand reforms, including the death penalty for corrupt officials. Dozens were injured when the government sent a phalanx of police in with batons and tear gas to break up their peaceful protest.

The corruption charges have eroded Singh's authority, paralysed policymaking, and weighed on India's growth potential.

Two ministers have resigned, one of whom is A. Raja, who faces allegations he caused a loss of $39 billion to the government by rigging the issuance of lucrative 2G telecoms licences.

(Additional reporting by Annie Banerji; writing by C.J. Kuncheria; Editing by James Pomfret and Sugita Katyal)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (4)
parmod.k wrote:
I have made comments earlier also that Anna and his team should name their campaign as ‘People’s Movement’ against corruption rather than merely accepting it to be named as a movement of the civil society which is too narrow in its meaning than the objective of the movement.It should be visualized one of the biggest democratic movement of the World so far as it involves largest mass of mankind on the planet.This name would bear a very great impact on the rulers of the day.

Jul 29, 2011 12:10pm IST  --  Report as abuse
cbgumaste wrote:
Something is better than nothing. It will be a good start for action against Graft and Corruption. The route of amendments is always open. Let the Lokpal Bill get passed as drafted by the government, and implemented. It can be amended if necessary after the Loksabha Elections. Nothing wrong in giving a trial

Jul 29, 2011 5:40pm IST  --  Report as abuse
kuumar wrote:
There is nothing in a name. The cause for which Anna Jee and his team is fighting is really appreciable. The whole nation is indebted to him

Jul 29, 2011 7:43pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

India-Nepal Ties

TOP SHOWCASE

Strategic Plans

Strategic Plans

China plans railway to India, Nepal borders by 2020.  Full Article 

Mideast Conflict

Mideast Conflict

U.S. lifts ban on flights to Israel as Gaza toll tops 700.  Full Article 

Food Scandal

Food Scandal

China probes 581 firms, restaurants as food safety scare spreads.  Full Article 

Virtual Risks

Virtual Risks

Flaws could expose users of privacy-protecting software, researchers say.  Full Article 

Facebook Results

Facebook Results

Q2 beats Wall Street targets, stock hits record high  Full Article 

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony

Song and dance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  Slideshow 

Just Not Cricket

Just Not Cricket

ICC rejects 2018 offer, cricket stays out of Commonwealth Games.  Full Article 

Photographers' Blog

Photographers' Blog

Waiting to die in Varanasi.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage