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PIL to scrap 'illegal' Lok Pal panel

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By OUR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 19.04.11
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New Delhi, April 18: A lawyer today petitioned the Supreme Court to scrap the government notification on the joint committee for drawing up the Lok Pal Bill, saying the long-pending legislation couldn’t be “handed over to five people for redrafting”.

The public interest petition came nine days after the government issued the April 9 notification announcing the panel of five ministers and five activists in a tactical compromise in the face of mushrooming support for a fasting Anna Hazare.

In his PIL, lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma said the notification was illegal and unconstitutional. He claimed the bill was introduced in 1968 and tabled 12 times, but every time the House had been dissolved before it could be passed.

He said the bill was still pending along with recommendations and comments of various commissions that had looked at it over the years and was waiting for final approval to be converted into a law.

“The power and right has been delegated to a legislative committee by the Speaker of the House,” he said, adding that the bill now needed to be published in newspapers for comments from the public. “Therefore, instead of publishing it for the general public it cannot be handed over to five people for redrafting and to propose it in the House for conversion as a law.”

Hazare, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Karnataka Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde and Arvind Kejriwal are the five activists on the panel that also includes ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid. The committee met for the first time on Saturday. Sharma ripped into lawyers Shanti and Prashant Bhushan, the father-son duo on the panel.

“Despite having legal and factual knowledge, that power to appoint such a committee belongs to the President and the Speaker and that the government, or the executive has no power at all, both father and son, just for cheap political mileage, gave wrong advice and induced Anna Hazare and his associate to sit on a fast unto death for an unconstitutional demand,” he said.