‘I don’t anticipate any difficulty in negotiating with the government’

Shanti Bhushan
Shanti Bhushan
Lokpal Joint committee Co-chairman
Photo: Shailendra Pandey

How difficult will the negotiations with the five members from the government be?
I may be wrong but I’m not anticipating any difficulty at all. I think the objective of both the groups will be identical. Because all of us have heard India’s voice. And they have made it quite clear they want an effective Lokpal Bill that is actually able to curb corruption. That’s the mandate from the people. They are all competent members. They understand what needs to be done. They will see it as an opportunity. If the five government members can bring a Bill that is effective and meets with the people’s approval, they will win the next election in 2014 hands down.

People say the Jan Lokpal draft has so many powers that it seems almost like an extra-constitutional body.
They have the same powers as a police inspector. The power is only to investigate. Not to impose punishment. That will await a trial. In fact, I have even suggested that the Lokpal will not have the authority to arrest anybody.

What about the Lokpal’s checks and balances?
If there is any complaint of corruption against any member of the Lokpal, that complaint has to be referred to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can get it probed.

Aren’t the civil society members all on the same side?
Therefore we will have public debates, public discussions on the provisions of the Bill. All viewpoints should be considered. But ultimately what should be accepted or not will have to be left to Anna and the committee.

What if the final draft is not passed in Parliament?
Anna has already said “If a proper Bill is not passed by the Parliament, I’ll be back at Jantar Mantar.” So the movement will start again. That’s the guarantee.

Revati Laul is Correspondent with Tehelka


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