With their negotiations on the anti-corruption Lokpal bill in the joint drafting panel having hit a roadblock, Justice Santosh Hegde on Wednesday appealed to his team not to give the government any chance to blame them at a later stage.
Justice Hegde, who is part of the civil society team, said the five members will take a collective decision on how to proceed in their talks with the government, but walking out will only help the government.
"I will discuss with my colleagues, since I feel that in case we walkout of the negotiations, the government will get a chance to say that a strong bill could have been drafted had the civil society team cooperated," Justice Hegde, the lokayukta of Karnataka, told HT.Asked how his team will reconcile their differences with the government, Justice Hegde former Supreme Court judge replied: "In my view, we should record our dissent in the minutes of the meetings so that it can be made known to the citizens of the country what we demanded and how it was responded to."
Justice Hegde said the joint panel had been given a big responsibility by the people and his team would make its best efforts to fulfil the public aspirations to curb corruption.
His colleague on the panel, Arvind Kejriwal endorsed the views of Justice Hegde. "Our stand on the future course of action regarding the joint drafting panel will be unanimous.”
According to the note prepared by Hazare's team on Monday’s meeting, which ended on a bitter note, Justice Hegde had asked the government nominees of the panel: “Then who is covered under the Lokpal? And what is the purpose of creating such a Lokpal?”
“I am extremely surprised at the opposition to bring the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary within the Lokpal's purview. The arguments being put forward do not hold ground," he said.
"We follow a rule of law in our democracy and corruption is an anti-thesis to it. Can we today say that immunity should be provided to individuals by virtue of posts held by them?" Justice Hegde remarked.