‘Keeping the PM out of Lokpal purview is absurd’

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan tells Kunal Majumder that the Centre is probably stonewalling on the Lokpal Bill
Why did you call the 30 May meeting of the Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee ‘quite disastrous’?

For the first time, major contentious issues were discussed and the government’s response was negative on virtually all of them. They said the prime minister should not be included, the judiciary should not be included, the MPS’ conduct inside Parliament should not be included, nor should government servants below a certain level. That leaves only a small section, i.e., ministers and senior civil servants. Kapil Sibal even said that the armed forces should not be included. Then what is the point of the Lokpal?

But why did you issue such a strong statement? Differences of opinion are bound to occur.

The government representatives reacted in virtually the same way on all issues. We were surprised. For example, the PM was included in the government’s original Lokpal Bill. Now they are saying he should not be included. They are using some dissenting voices within the civil society. But such views are hardly shared by even two percent of the people. It appears that the government is trying to buy some time or stonewall the Bill. We told them that the PM is not immune from any anti-corruption investigation. He can be investigated only by the CBI but the problem is that the CBI is controlled by the PM. The objective of this Lokpal Bill was to set up an anti-corruption investigation agency that is independent of the government.

Read rest of the interview in Tehelka dated 11 June 2011

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