Kapil Sibal, telecom minister and key formulator of the government strategy on the lokpal bill, said on Wednesday that the prime minister could never be put under the anti-graft ombudsman.
The reason: A prime minister is expected to take quick decisions of enormous import, especially given the security scenario in the neighbourhood.
“We’re living in a disturbed neighbourhood. We saw the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, where many decisions were to be taken at the spot. In such situations, the PM can’t be expected to be thinking about what view the lokpal will take,” Sibal told HT.
But he rejected the argument that the government was against making the PM accountable, saying, “The PM is accountable under the law, but we certainly do not want him to be put under another body which is outside the system and accountable to nobody.”
Describing the nine meetings of the joint drafting committee as an “exceptionally useful exercise,” Sibal said the government’s draft bill was a vastly improved version and marks a significant departure from the previous laws.
But he made it clear that the government could not accept the demands of Anna Hazare’s team, as “they presented a draft in which the lokpal was institutionally answerable to nobody.”
He rejected the argument that the government had retained the control of appointment and removal of lokpal members as also the control over its finances.
“Isn’t the Supreme Court independent? The same procedure will be followed here. Has the government ever said no to the CJI whenever he has asked for the funds?”
Sibal also questioned the Hazare team’s logic of demanding 0.25% share of the country’s gross domestic product for the lokpal.
He said, “What are we talking about? The entire amount spent on research in this country is 0.8% of GDP. Let us be practical.”
The minister, however, did not rule out further amendments to the government draft. He said it would depend on the inputs to be received at the all-party meeting next month.