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PM firm on Lokpal bill as Bhushans fight more taint

Thursday April 21, 2011 07:28:24 PM, IANS

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh addressing the Civil Services Day, in New Delhi on April 21, 2011.

New Delhi: As clouds of controversy darkened over Lokpal bill drafting committee co-chair Shanti Bhushan with fresh demands for his ouster and his civil society colleagues asking him not to buckle under pressure, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday the legislation to tackle corruption would be introduced in July.

 

Admitting that there was "growing feeling" amongst people that present systems were ineffective in dealing with corruption, the prime minister said he hoped to bring the more stringent anti-graft Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the monsoon session of parliament.

"Our aim is to strengthen the legislative framework, revamp administrative practices and procedures and fast track a systemic response to fighting corruption. A committee of ministers and representatives of civil society is at work to finalise the draft of the Lokpal Bill, which we hope to be able to introduce during the monsoon session of parliament," he told a gathering of civil servants.

While the prime minister put forward the government's agenda, the panel to draft the much discussed bill, set up after a fast-unto-death by reformer Anna Hazare, found itself fighting taint. The focus, said civil society activists, must be on a more effective law.

At the centre of it all was former law minister Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant, two of the five civil society representatives in the 10-member committee that also comprises five union ministers.

The Bhushans -- who fought allegations that they had got undervalued property in Noida and Allahabad -- were back in the news Thursday over a CD that purportedly contains a conversation between Shanti Bhushan, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and then party leader Amar Singh on fixing a judge for a hefty consideration.

Shanti Bhushan claims the CD is forged, as he had never spoken to the two politicians, and had last week registered a police complaint.

The CD has been tested in different labs, which have given different versions on its authenticity.

A Delhi Police official said that "initial" reports from a forensic lab in Hyderabad suggested the CD was not tampered with.

"We have received the reports today (Thursday) and the test confirms that it is not tampered," a source at the Delhi Police Special Cell told IANS.

Amar Singh was furious and reiterated Thursday Shanti Bhushan and Prashant should resign from the committee.

"The Bhushans say they don't know me... He said has not met or interacted with me but in 1996 he appeared twice in a case filed by us. We paid fees to him which he had conveniently forgotten," Amar Singh told a TV channel.

Amar Singh said even if the CD is spliced, the content is serious and needs to be investigated.

In Lucknow, Congress leader Digvijay Singh was also in attack mode. He said he would answer Shanti Bhushan's defamation notice in court.

Shanti Bhushan Wednesday served a legal notice on Digvijay Singh, demanding a public apology for alleging he had undervalued a property in Allahabad and not paid adequate stamp duty.

As the Bhushans fought with their backs to the wall, their colleagues Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi told the media that the movement for the Lokpal bill would not be diluted.

Former police officer Bedi said the Bhushans were on the panel for their legal expertise. The Bhushans, she said, were doing a "national duty" and had a limited agenda to draft an effective anti-corruption law.

There is overwhelming pressure on them not to give in, said Bedi, who is part of the India Against Corruption group that mobilised opinion for a strong anti-corruption law.

"We as people are appealing to the Bhushans not to give in," she said.

"We are not going to run away from the field," said Right to Information activist Kejriwal, who is also a member of the panel.



 



 

 

 

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Picture of the Day

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife Mrs Gursharan Kaur in a procession for laying wreath ceremony at Monument of the Defenders of Motherland, at Astana, in Kazakhstan on April 16, 2011.

(Photo: Shivraj)

 

 
 
 
 
 

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