Former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer and activist Kiran Bedi has backed the amended Lokpal Bill draft even as anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal has rejected the bill.
Speaking to a TV channel on Friday, Bedi said that most of the concerns have been addressed in the new draft and it is time to give up the opposition. In a tweet late last night Bedi wrote "It will do us no harm if we begin with proposed lokpal and v keep improving it as we go along!Being very high powered it will carry weight!"
Meanwhile, former Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan today said that though the amended draft has slight improvement, the overall impact of it comes to nothing due to weakness in the core of legislation. He said that minor cosmetic changes will not bring the desired result.
Bhushan said that until the main investing agency, the CBI is made independent of the control of the government, some changes made here and there in the draft will not solve the purpose.
He blamed the ruling class and the opposition for the weak Lokpal Bill and said that the protests against corruption will continue.
Anna Hazare had on Thursday rejected the amended Lokpal bill approved by the Union Cabinet as a "farce" and announced he will launch another agitation if the government went ahead with the enactment of a "weak" legislation.
The 75-year-old anti-graft activist also questioned UPA government's commitment to root out corruption in the country, saying he does not "trust" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to bring a stringent Bill for creating an anti-corruption ombudsman.
"Both PM and Sonia Gandhi can no more be trusted to bring a stringent Lokpal bill to root out corruption ... Had they been committed to the issue it would not have taken two years to take a concrete decision in this regard," Hazare told reporters in Patna.
Civil rights activist Arvind Kejriwal questioned why government is making a law which is compassionate towards corrupt people.
"Why have you so much compassion in your heart for corrupt people. This is beyond understanding. It is because all these political parties have corrupt people," he said, questioning why legal assistance will be provided to people accused of corruption.
"It is written everywhere that corrupt people have to hire their own lawyers but for the first time in this bill it is mentioned that government will provide legal assistance to people accused of corruption," he said.
He further added that government does not provide any such legal assistance to poor people.
"The entire law is to protect corrupt people. I challenge the government whether it can send even a single corrupt person to jail with this law," Kejriwal said.
In the amended Lokpal draft, the government may no longer get to appoint the chief of the country's premier investigating agency, the CBI, instead an independent panel could make the selection.
The cabinet on Thursday gave its nod to a majority of the recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha select committee that examined the lokpal bill, including delinking the appointment of lokayuktas in states from the legislation.
The committee, which presented its version of the lokpal bill in Rajya Sabha in last November, recommended that a panel comprising the prime minister, Chief Justice of India and leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha should appoint the CBI director.
This provision was also a part of the bill passed by Lok Sabha in December 2011, but since the legislation got stuck in Rajya Sabha, the government appointed the new CBI director Ranjit Sinha in October according to the laid procedure despite protests by the BJP.
In the amended draft, the government accepted 14 of the 16 recommendations made by the committee, including a separate prosecution wing for the CBI, whose director would be appointed by the central vigilance commission.
The anti-graft watchdog will be a nine-member body. Members will be chosen by a committee of PM, Speaker, CJI, leader of the opposition and an eminent jurist.
But, the cabinet shot down suggestion that a public servant against whom a graft complaint is filed should not be given a hearing till a probe is done.
The recommendation that the CBI officials probing cases handed over by the lokpal should not be shifted without its permission, too, was not accepted.
It will do us no harm if we begin with proposed lokpal and v keep improving it as we go along!Being very high powered it will carry weight!— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) January 31, 2013