Government open to suggestions on Lokpal: Moily

New Delhi: A day after social activist Anna Hazare launched his fast-unto-death on the Jan Lokpal Bill issue, the government on Wednesday said it was open to any suggestion on the proposed legislation and had not turned down his demand for a joint committee.

Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said that the government was open to suggestions and “anxious to introduce the Bill in the next session”.

He said the government “did not say no” to the demand for a joint committee to draft the bill after a sub-committee of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on corruption held discussions with representatives of Mr. Hazare and other members of civil society.

“Even on the demand for joint committee, we said we were open. We never closed our mind even on the formation of joint committee…In principle we did not say no,” Mr. Moily said, adding that the Prime Minister was open to all suggestions on the bill.

He said though the bill has already been drafted, it will not “find a finality” unless it goes to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. “The Standing Committee can always throw it open to discussions and deliberations with everyone. No bill is passed in hide and seek manner. Parliament has the most transparent way of functioning in our country,” Mr. Moily said.

Seventy-two-year-old Hazare is observing a fast-unto-death demanding enactment of an anti-corruption bill to give wider powers to the ombudsman. He is pressing for formation of a joint committee of officials, citizens and intellectuals to draft the Bill.