New Delhi : Accusing the government of creating a “subservient” Lokpal, BJP leader Arun Jaitley Thursday stressed the need for a strong anti-graft ombudsman and indicated that his party would move amendments to the bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the government.
Initiating the debate on the landmark bill, Jaitley said: “You (the government) want to control appointments, want government control over investigating agency, use Lokpal to intrude every aspect of civil society.”
He said the Bharatiya Janata Party wanted the house to pass a strong Lokpal bill and called upon the parties supporting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to “strike and not merely proclaim” on their concerns regarding the bill.
“We don’t want the present bill but also don’t want to go back today (Thursday) without passing a Lokpal bill. We want a strong Lokpal bill,” he said.
Pointing out that parliament had been unable to pass the Lokpal bill eight times, he said the Rajya Sabha should prove that elected representatives were committed to building a strong institution.
“Would they allow a weak bill or support amendments to make it a strong bill… The whole country is watching our debate and people will not forgive those supporting a weak Lokpal bill,” he said.
Referring to quota provisions in the bill, passed by the Lok Sabha Tuesday night, the BJP leader said the government had consciously brought a law that was “unconstitutional and vulnerable”.
Jailey, whose speech was heard with rapt attention by the house, said the legal architecture framed by the government was weak.
“The legal architecture you have made is not very strong… The government is creating a constitutional cocktail… I regret to say this is half-hearted legislation.”
Jaitley alleged that the government wanted to create a smokescreen by talking to civil society.
“They wanted to create a phoney Lokpal and a smokescreen. They wanted to make it a toy and then say it is a constitutional authority.”
The leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha added that the investigative mechanism under the Lokpal was multi-layered and complicated and would not help in speedy probes.
“Whoever conceived this is alien to criminal jurisprudence. Why create this unworkable mechanism… This is not a question of victory and defeat of the government,” he said, adding that the government should accept amendments of the opposition.
Referring to provisions in the bill that refer to donations to trusts, he said any private employee associated with these bodies would be under the Lokpal. “It is revenge provision to teach civil society a lesson.”
“What we are trying today is a government controlled intrusive authority that enters every area of private lives,” he said.
Pointing to provisions in the bill on creation of Lokayuktas in states, Jaitley said it would impinge on the powers of the state.
“Why are you creating constitutional havoc?” he asked, adding there was no conflict in fighting corruption and federalism.
Describing Lokpal as a “primary integrity institution”, Jaitley said the government should not subvert it.
“Are you going to subvert it? Will you kill the Lokpal in the womb? We want to create an independent Lokpal, you want to create a subservient Lokpal. You want a pliable agency so that it is a rudderless institution.
“If we are creating history, we should not create bad history,” Jaitley said.