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Ex-Speaker Sangma says PM must not be in Lokpal ambit, urges Hazare to end fast plans

August 14, 2011 - New Delhi

Former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma on Sunday appealed to social activist Anna Hazare to withdraw his plans of going on an anti-corruption related indefinite fast owing to his advanced age and to the fact that Indian society could still benefit from his sagely advise.

Welcoming his emergence as a crusader against corruption, Sangma, however, said that he is apprehensive about his demand to bring the Prime Minister, Members of Parliament and Judges under the ambit of Lok Pal.

In a letter to Hazare, Sangma said: "Corruption has seeped deep into the vitals of our society. Your emergence as a crusader against corruption is most welcome, though belated. I fully agree with the spirit of your movement and extend my whole-hearted support."

He further said that while he didn't think anyone should have a contrary view to Hazare's mission, "unless of course, he is either insane or unpatriotic", bringing the Prime Minister, MPs and Judges under the ambit of Lok Pal, "is fraught with serious danger to the very existence of parliamentary democracy under which the legislature and judiciary are most sacrosanct."

He said that MPs can be taken to task for any misdemeanor and informed Hazare through his letter that almost ten MPs belonging to different political parties were stripped of parliamentary membership in the infamous case of cash for questions.

"There certainly are adequate provisions to deal with erring MPs or even Ministers. The recent arrest of Central Minister and two MPs vouch for these provisions. Therefore, I do not see any point to bring MPs under the Lok Pal ambit," Sangma said.

"So far as the Prime Minister is concerned, it would be most desirable that a provision be made in the Lok Pal Bill to take action against him for any misdemeanor only after he demits the office. Prime Minister, in fact, is responsible for his Council of Ministers and, therefore, his office becomes highly sensitive. I do not think it would be in the interest of the nation to hand a domiciles sword on his neck," he added.

"He has to be allowed freedom to function without any fear. In any case, he is responsible to Parliament which has the authority to impeach him on any issue of impropriety. Bringing him under the ambit of Lok Pal would encourage his critics and vested interests to make him dysfunctional by making unfounded allegations," Sangma said.

He said that it would be in the best interests of the nation if the prime minister is kept out of the ambit of the Lok Pal with a rider that he could be put on trial for any wrong doings after he demits his office.

This, he felt, would appropriate, especially in "our environment of statutorily Right to Information and active media", where people have a tendency to apply immense pressure for the resignation of public office holders even without waiting for any substantial proof of wrong doings."

Regarding judiciary, Sangma said: " I see no reason to bring them under Lok Pal because there are very many provisions to deal with them. I may mention here that one Supreme court Judge had to face impeachment before Parliament and yet another senior judge is currently faced with the same prospect."

He concluded by saying that a fresh dialogue could be initiated with the government with an express desire that "a Lok Pal Bill be drafted with deep understanding of all issues and our national ethos."


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