Within two months of constitution of the joint drafting committee on Jan Lokpal Bill, a civil society group has termed deliberations as “non-inclusive” in a clear indication of growing dissent over the working of the committee.
In a similar letter written to two co-chairpersons of the committee, finance minister Pranab Mukerjee and Shanti Bhushan, who represents civil society, the National Campaign for People’s Right To Information (NCPRI) said even though the committee has met thrice, there was no clarity regarding the process.
“Neither the minutes or the videography of the committee's meetings have been put in public domain,” said Venkatesh Nayak, co-convener of NCPRI and pointed out the mandate of the civil society members of the committee is to ensure "transparency" and "integrity" of the drafting process.
A 26-page critique of the bill version 2 was prepared by justice (retd) AP Shah and Nayak, which was presented to the civil society members of the committee but most of the recommendations have been ignored.
They wanted to keep judiciary out of the purview, were against scrapping of the Central Vigilance Commission and have a special procedure to investigate complaints against Prime Ministers.
“Neither our suggestions on the criminal justice system have been incorporated nor we have been given reasons for ignoring them,” Nayak said.
The letter highlighting the disappointment of the RTI campaigners who had sought information regarding terms of reference of the committee and the procedure adopted to prepare the draft of the bill.
They also wanted to know whether public consultations will be held as assured by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on April 9 with stakeholders before the cabinet considers the bill and the process for seeking public feedback.
“While the Jan Lokpal Bill may be the basis for discussion, the debate needs to be open and inclusive - not confined to negotiating agreement on the Jan Lokpal draft as already drafted,” NCPRI, having National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy, said in a statement.