Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday wrote to former chief justice of India JS Verma asking him to try and convince anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare to be rational while dealing with the Lokpal issue.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear Justice Verma,
I have received your letter of 22 August, 2011. I deeply value your contribution to the national debate that is taking place on the issue of corruption and the enactment of a Lokpal Bill. I am as pained as you are at the corruption faced by our citizens in many of their dealings with the Government.
The entire nation is agreed on the necessity and urgency of remedial action to curb corruption. It is a complex problem and we have to act on a number of fronts.
The Right to Information Act was one such landmark measure that we took and it has had a salutary effect. But much more needs to be done and the problem has to be tackled from different angles and at different levels. I agree with you that Shri Anna Hazare ji has rendered a great public service by mobilizing public opinion against corruption.
You have rightly said that the final act of enacting legislation has to be performed by the Legislature and then the law has to be faithfully implemented by the executive under constant public gaze and judicial scrutiny.
But you will appreciate that it is the bounden duty of Parliament to pass a law only after its members have had reasonable time and opportunity to hear a wide range of public opinions and apply their minds to its various provisions. It is only after due deliberation that a law can be passed that not only meets the aspirations of the people but is also practical and effective. This is how the founding fathers of our republic framed the Constitution and that is why it has stood the test of time and circumstance.
The spirit of the sacred Constitution bequeathed to us by our founding fathers enjoins Parliament to discharge its duties with due thought and diligence. I am in agreement with your statement that in an inclusive democracy every section of civil society has a participative role in governance, including that of policy making. I have no difference with your proposal that the views of the entire civil society must be presented along with the government draft.
In fact, the mechanism of the Standing Committee is precisely conceived as a structured mechanism for Parliament to consider diverse views on the subject matter of Bills and have focused and reasoned discussions on various points.
In fact, yesterday I wrote to Shri Anna Hazare ji requesting him to end his fast and reiterated Government's intention to pass the best possible Lokpal legislation with inputs from civil society and on the basis of the broadest possible consensus. I said that the matter was with the Standing Committee and that the Committee was entitled to consider not only the Bill introduced by the Government but the Jan Lokpal Bill and other versions like those prepared by shrimati Aruna Roy as well.
I said that our Government was prepared to request the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to formally refer the Jan Lokpal Bill also to the Standing Committee for their holistic consideration along with everything else. I also said that the Government can formally request the Standing Committee to fast-track its deliberations to the extent reasonably feasible, subject to its discretion and the necessity to reflect deeply and spend adequate time on such an important Bill.
However, Shri Anna Hazare ji and his supporters insist that the Jan Lokpal Bill, which perhaps reflects one section of views, must be passed in this session of Parliament itself and without referring it to the Standing Committee.
In your letter you have mentioned that the rule of law is the bedrock of democracy. I can not agree more except to say that our great Constitution has served this country very well through difficult times and we should do nothing that in any way undermines the parliamentary democracy of which the country is so proud.
In the light of the above, I would request you, as a man with high public standing and a distinguished record of long public service, to use your good offices to urge Shri Anna Hazare ji and his supporters to adopt a more rational approach in dealing with this complex problem.
sd/ Manmohan Singh