The Lok Satta Party will be organizing a second National Level round table on the Lokpal Bill in New Delhi in September.
Announcing this at a media conference here today, Dr. JP said that a small group of people – not exceeding 15 in number - comprising former judges of Supreme Court; Election Commissioners, Vigilance Commissioners, CBI directors and Constitutional experts will go through the Union Government’s Lokpal Bill and the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by the Anna Hazare-led civil society and address issues both of which have ignored.
Dr. JP recalled that the Union Government has incorporated many of the recommendations made by the first round table organized by the Lok Satta and the Foundation for Democratic Reforms in New Delhi on April 24, 2011.
Dr. JP regretted that both the Bills before the nation dash people’s hope for the dawn of a corruption-free society. The Bills focus on corruption at the national level and ignore corruption at the State and district levels. Unless the Government constitutes Lokayuktas at the State level and ombudsmen at the district level with powers and responsibilities akin to those of the Lokpal at the national level, corruption can never be combated.
Dr. JP said that there is no serious discussion on making the CBI at the national level and ACBs at the State level independent and strong, and bringing them under the protective umbrella of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas. The Bills ignore the need to bring about coordination between vigilances commissions at the Central and State levels with the proposed anti-corruption mechanisms.
Dr. JP said that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas should focus on corruption among top elected officials like MPs and MLAs and civil servants and not on peons and clerks. Higher judiciary, one of the three pillars of Government, should under no circumstances be brought under the purview of an unelected institution like the Lokpal. National Judicial Commission is the ight body for enforcing accountability of Judiciary.
Dr. JP described the impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen by the Rajya Sabha as a golden chapter in India’s parliamentary history in that it enforced judicial accountability for the first time since India became a republic. This is in sharp contrast to the ham-handed manner in which the Union Government handled the Anna Hazare team’s fight against corruption. The Government has lost its credibility and become the laughing stock of people by its flip-flops.
He announced that the Union Government has agreed to the constitution of a National Judicial Commission to decide on appointment and removal of judges. Three eminent Supreme Court Justices – Venkatachalaiah, JS Varma and Krishna Iyer – at the instance of the Lok Satta have given shape to the Judicial Commission Bill.
The Lok Satta Party would represent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the need to constitute Lokayuktas and ombudsmen as part of the Lokpal Bill. If it does not heed its pleas, it will mount a campaign for creation of a strong and independent Lokayukta in Andhra Pradesh to begin with. It will associate a crore of people with its demand by collecting their signatures on a representation.
Dr. JP, who visited nine districts in Andhra Pradesh in the last one week spreading awareness about the importance of creating strong anti corruption mechanisms, said that the Lok Satta would promote discussion on the Lokpal Bill in all arts and science and professional colleges throughout the State.
In replay to a question on the ongoing CBI inquiry into Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy, MP and President of the YSR Congress, Dr. JP said that every one should cooperate with the CBI and abide by the court verdict. If there is evidence of involvement of others in Andhra Pradesh scams, they too should be brought under the probe.
Mr. V. V. V. S. Varma, Working President, Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao and Mr. V. Laxman Balaji, General Secretaries, and Mrs. N. Sarojadevi, Mahila Satta President, took part in the media conference.