If Anna Hazare succeeds in getting citizens on the panel that will draft the Lokpal Bill, it could set a precedent in India.
Hazare in the past has successfully pushed through laws — the Right To Information (RTI) Act in 2002 and The Maharashtra Government Servants Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Duties Act (2005) — in Maharashtra but citizens were never part of the committee that drafted the laws.
Hazare led the pressure group to enact the RTI to bring transparency to the administration. The transfer law, which ensured a fixed tenure of three years to government officials to protect them from political interference and arbitrary transfers, was enacted after Hazare campaigned for it.
“In both cases, there was public consultation on the draft law. The laws incorporated Hazare’s demands but citizens were not members of the drafting committee,” said former Assembly speaker Arun Gujarathi.
Both laws have been criticised by legislators and there is a move to dilute the transfers law.
Experts said there is no legal impediment to Hazare’s demand to have citizens comprise half the members of the drafting committee. “Finally, the Law Commission will draft the bill and it will be passed by Parliament,” said YP Singh, an Indian Police Service officer turned lawyer.
Despite an overall anti-Hazare sentiment among state politicians, successive governments have always taken Hazare seriously. The last three chief ministers, from Vilasrao Deshmukh to Prithviraj Chavan, have held quarterly reviews with Hazare on bringing administrative reforms. A charter of his demands, whether it’s on prohibition or reforms in the Public Distribution System, are noted by bureaucrats and the norms are amended.