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Govt. takes on Team Anna, says Lokpal Bill will be drafted by June 30

June 16, 2011 - New Delhi

Stating that the government is committed to a stronger Lokpal Bill, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram today said the proposed legislation will be drafted by the June 30 deadline.

"On behalf of the government we want to reiterate what we have been saying: it is our intention to draft a strong and sound Lokpal Bill, and we will complete it by June 30," Chidambaram told a press conference.

The government said there should be respect for the law, and added that it hopes to draft the bill with the help of social activists.

The government further said it agrees with civil society on several areas, but some conditions suggested by the civil society activists are not feasible.

Stating that it has shown immense restraint, the government said the drafting of the bill takes a certain time.

The government further said Team Anna can't threaten the government and negotiate with it.

With no consensus being reached between government and civil society representatives during their sixth joint drafting committee meeting on the Lokpal Bill, Gandhian Anna Hazare earlier in the day threatened to resort to another agitation if a strong anti-corruption bill was not passed.

"If a weak bill is formed, then it will be of no benefit for the society and the country, so what is the use of sanctioning such a draft? It seems that the agitation of Jantar Mantar that was ended needs to be revived again. The government is backing out from all the issues," said Hazare.

"They lack the feeling of eradicating corruption from the country; they are not willing to make India a corruption-free country. Poor people are finding it difficult to stay with corruption and the government is not bothered about it," he added.

Further questioning the rationale behind sending two versions of Lokpal Bill to the Cabinet for consideration, Hazare said: "Even the citizens have understood that if the government had to make two drafts, then why did they form the committee? They wasted so much time for the last three months."

"If they wanted to make two drafts, so they made a draft and we also made our draft, both the drafts could have been presented in front of the Cabinet, and it would have been cleared by now. Why did they waste so much time? So it is all a conspiracy; the government doesn't want to form the Lokpal Bill," he added.

Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal said on Wednesday if there is no consensus on key issues, two drafts will be submitted to the Cabinet.

"Panel had long discussion on various provisions of the Bill. We will discuss issues of divergence and try to reach a consensus. If no consensus is reached, both proposals will be forwarded to the Cabinet. We will meet the June 30 deadline," said Sibal.

"We have agreed to meet again when the members would try to arrive at a consensus. The panel will meet again on June 20 and 21 for further discussions," he added.

Hazare earlier this month gave the government a deadline of August 15 to agree to their demands for enactment of the proposed Lokpal Bill.

He had earlier gone on a five-day-long fast in April till the government conceded the demand for a strong anti-Lokpal Bill.


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