New Delhi: The
government was committed to tabling the Lokpal bill in
parliament's monsoon session, but won't amend the constitution for
the proposed anti-corruption legislation, Home Minister P.
Chidambaram said Monday.
Addressing a media conference, a day after an all-party meeting
agreed that a "strong and effective" bill should be introduced in
the coming session of parliament, Chidambaram was noncommittal on
when the legislation would be passed as it would have to be
referred to a standing committee for broader consensus.
This effectively means the Lokpal (ombudsman) bill would have to
wait for the winter session in mid-November to be passed.
"We will bring (the) bill in the monsoon session of parliament,"
the home minister said at the press conference, that was also
addressed by Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal
and Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal.
The home minister said the all-party meeting adopted "unanimously
a one-sentence resolution" emphasising that the Lokpal bill would
be tabled in accordance with "established procedure".
"While the government will make every effort to pass the bill at
the earliest" but that would depend upon members of parliament, he
Chidambaram was categorical in saying that the final draft bill
would be in line with the constitution of India as the government
didn't consider it as "an occasion to rewrite the constitution".
"The other aspect emphasized by every political party was that
whatever laws are made must be within the constitution."
Asked whether referring the bill to a standing committee would
mean a delay, at least till the winter session, in seeing the
measure through, HRD minister Sibal said: "We had said we are
committed to bring the bill. We will keep the promise. We never
said it would be passed in the monsoon session."
The all-party meeting was part of the government's efforts to
evolve a consensus on the anti-graft bill after meetings of a
joint drafting committee, comprising five nominees of social
reformer Anna Hazare and five central ministers, failed to do so.
The drafting panel was divided on several issues, including
bringing the prime minister and the judiciary under the purview of
the proposed Lokpal. Both the sides gave their own drafts of the
The home minister said most political parties in Sunday's meeting
said they would reserve comment until a cabinet-approved draft
bill on whether the judiciary and the prime minister should be
brought under the purview of the Lokpal or not.
"I think this is a perfectly legitimate and correct position to
take," he said, referring to the elusive consensus on the
He however clarified that it was not the draft prepared by the
ministers on the panel that will be submitted to parliament.
This draft, he said, would be refined before being tabled.
"What was presented (at the all-party meeting) is a draft. It will
go to departments and ministries concerned. It will be sent to the
nodal ministry (before being referred to the cabinet). The cabinet
will finalise the draft. The draft approved by the cabinet will be
introduced in parliament."
Asked about Hazare's threat to launch a hunger strike from Aug 16,
in case the bill as demanded by the civil society was not made
into law by then, Chidambaram said it was "premature" to predict
what would happen in the future as the government will bring the
bill that "will satisfy the vast majority of this country".
Chidambaram said the government was "very happy with the outcome
of the meeting" that took place "in a very cordial atmosphere".
But senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani said
the meeting was "unique and without precedent" because it "turned
out to be so unanimous in its criticism of the government".
Advani did not reveal the BJP's stand on the inclusion of the
prime minister under Lokpal. However, in his blog he did mention
about a similar legislation presented by the party when it was in
That bill, he said, covered the prime minister.