During Anna Hazare’s fast in April , law minister M Veerappa Moily had suggested to the Prime Minister to accept the anti-corruption crusader’s demand that a former chief justice should head the joint drafting panel of the Lokpal bill.
The PMO has released the letter under RTI, written to him by Moily on April 8, in which the minister conceded that “the matter was catching the imagination of the nation”.
Moily had also stressed that the government “should not stand on prestige on any issue” during negotiations with Hazare’s team.
Interestingly, the ministry had earlier refused to provide the letter under RTI, saying it was written in personal capacity by Moily, “as a thinker of a political party and not as a minister”.
Moily had specifically referred to two issues on which the talks between the telecom minister, Kapil Sibal and Hazare’s team were being stuck — a government notification to set-up a joint drafting committee and appointment of the chairman of this panel.
“As far as the appointment of chairman is concerned, we may safely agree for a former chief justice of India, if they do not agree for a cabinet minister,” Moily wrote.
The government then issued a notification announcing the formation of a joint drafting committee a few hours after Moily wrote to Singh.
Reacting to the letter, a member of Hazare’s team said though the chapter is closed, they were given to understand that only a minister can head such a joint panel. “We were told that in case a retired CJI or anyone else other than a minister was chosen to head the committee, no minister would be its member. We did not know that a senior minister shared our view,” said the Hazare team member.