Friday, July 29, 2011

Hazare sees a 'cruel joke'


ew Delhi, July 28: Anna Hazare's team today said the Lokpal bill was a "cruel joke" on the country and warned that people would teach the government a lesson after the Gandhian begins his fast at Jantar Mantar from August 16.

The group also said the Supreme Court would strike down the legislation as unconstitutional if it kept the Prime Minister out of the ambit of the proposed anti-corruption ombudsman. "It is a deceit on the nation," Hazare said in Maharashtra, adding that he would go ahead with his indefinite hunger strike.

Hazare group members Kiran Bedi and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan warned that the bill, once enacted, would encourage state governments to keep chief ministers out of the ambit of the Lokayukta.

"I don't think it will be a very strong Lokpal bill," Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, a member of the joint drafting committee, said. Arvind Kejriwal said the bill would fail to address any kind of corruption ' high or low.

The activists said the government had proposed a "fractured Lokpal" to suit corporate interests and "fool" people. "The entire country will protest with me at Jantar Mantar on August 16.… This is not Hazare's protest but the entire country's," Hazare said in Maharashtra.

Bhushan said the ministers who were part of the joint drafting committee displayed "total illiteracy" of constitutional law. "This bill will be struck down by the Supreme Court within a minute if they give immunity to the Prime Minister," he said.

The group said "there was nothing for the common man" in the bill. Bhushan said exclusion of the lower bureaucracy meant corruption in everyday life, such as in the public distribution system or diversion of medicines from government hospitals, had been left out of the Lokpal's ambit. "This bill is a cruel joke on the people," he added.

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