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'Govt trying to divert attention', says civil society leaders


August 20, 2011 - New Delhi

Representatives of civil society on Saturday said that the government's move to invite public opinion over the Lokpal Bill by the Parliamentary Standing Committee was 'a waste of time' and a diversionary tactic to take away attention from the real issue.

Team Anna's member Arvind Kejriwal told the Times Now television channel that there is no point in wasting time by discussing a wrong bill.

"The bill needs to be overhauled and cannot be amended. The standing committee must just reject this bill," he was quoted, as saying.

With pressure mounting on the government over Anna Hazare's demand to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill by August 30, failing which, he has said that he will continue his fast "till my last breath", the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, law and Justice looking into the Lokpal Bill today invited suggestions from individuals/organisations.

The committee headed by Abhishek Manu Singhvi has decided to invite memoranda containing views/suggestions from the individuals/organisations interested in the subject matter of the Bill and also to hear select oral evidence on the subject matter of the Bill.

Those desirous of submitting memoranda to the committee have been asked to send letter within fifteen days of publication of the announcement. The committee has also asked for those, who are willing to appear the Committee for oral evidence besides submitting the memorandum, to indicate the same.

There is a view that two private member's bills - introduced by BJP's Varun Feroze Gandhi in Lok Sabha and independent member Rajiv Chandrashekhar in Rajya Sabha -- can offer a way out. Varun plans to move the Jan Lokpal Bill as his bill, while Chandrashekhar's bill has incorporated features of civil society's version of the legislation.

Since the grouse of the civil society is that Parliament won't get to debate the merits of their bill, the two private members' bills can give the two Houses an opportunity to assess the merits of the two rival pieces of legislation, potentially clearing the way for a resolution.

However, procedures and conventions may come in the way. A private member's bill can be introduced in the House only after a month's notice. While Varun Gandhi hasn't yet formally sought the Speaker's permission to move the bill, Chandrashekhar submitted his bill in the first week of August. So, neither has a month's time to be taken up for adoption in this session. Still, extraordinary situations often lead to "creative" solutions. Perhaps, with the House's permission, the process may be fast-tracked.

ANI

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