The path chosen by Anna Hazare is fraught with "grave
consequences" for India's parliamentary democracy, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh cautioned Wednesday, justifying the arrest of the
social activist ahead of his planned fast-unto-death for a more
powerful anti-graft legislation.
Hazare may be inspired by high ideals in his campaign to set up a
strong anti-corruption watchdog, but the "path that he has chosen
to impose his draft of a bill upon parliament is totally
misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our
parliamentary democracy", the prime minister said in a statement
in parliament on the arrest and subsequent release of Hazare
Manmohan Singh, who addressed both houses after the opposition
demanded a statement from him, stressed that the issue before the
nation was not whether a Lokpal bill, which is already in the Lok
Sabha, was necessary or desirable.
"All of us in this house are agreed that a Lokpal bill must be
passed as early as possible. The question is, who drafts the law
and who makes the law?"
He said the executive drafts a bill and places it before
parliament which debates and adopts the legislation, with
amendments if necessary.
"I am not aware of any constitutional philosophy or principle that
allows anyone to question the sole prerogative of parliament to
make a law. In making a law on Lokpal, the government has
faithfully adhered to the well-settled principles. As far as I am
able to gather, Hazare questions these principles and claims a
right to impose his Jan Lokpal bill upon parliament," the prime
In the process of adoption of the Lokpal bill, he said, there
would be opportunities for Hazare and others to present their
views to the standing committee to which this bill has been
In his nearly 1,800-word statement, Manmohan Singh said it was his
painful duty to report on Hazare's arrest and added that every
citizen had the right to hold peaceful protest but there was a way
to do it.
"Our government does not seek any confrontation with any section
of the society. But when some sections of society deliberately
challenge the authority of the government and the prerogative of
parliament, it is the bounden duty of the government to maintain
peace and tranquility," Manmohan Singh told the Lok Sabha as
opposition MPs intermittently shouted "shame, shame".
He said Delhi Police had taken the minimum steps necessary to
maintain peace in the capital city.
"Inevitably, though unfortunately, it led to the arrest and
subsequent release of Anna Hazare and some of his supporters. I
sincerely hope that the incidents will not be repeated," he said.
The statement, which he later also read out in the Rajya Sabha,
was made following persistent demands by a united opposition
seeking details of the events that led to the arrest of Hazare.
The social activist and some of his colleagues have refused to be
released and continue to remain inside the Tihar Jail. They say
they will be inside the jail until allowed to carry on their
hunger strike without any conditions.