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One NGO cannot claim to be repository of all knowledge: Soni

New Delhi: In a clear message to activists drafting the Lokpal Bill, government today asserted that Parliament is the final authority in making laws and a handful of people cannot claim to be the sole repository of all knowledge.

"I do not believe that four or five persons or a single NGO can claim to be better informed and be the sole repository of all knowledge," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters here.

She was replying to questions on RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal comments that his group would focus on electoral reforms and judicial reforms after the drafting of the Lokpal Bill.

Soni said every citizen of the country enjoyed the right to air his views at appropriate fora or to his elected representative but it was upto the government to incorporate the same in Bills it plans to move in Parliament.

"What will be the nature of the law is for the Parliament to decide. Parliament is the final authority," the minister said.

Soni said the UPA government, in the past seven years, had taken several steps that have made every person feel empowered to exercise his rights and air his views on issues of importance.

She said the government has been making efforts to get maximum inputs from various quarters and have a national debate on issues of importance.

Asked whether civil society activists should contest elections if they were keen to make laws, Soni said "it is not necessary for every person to contest elections. Not every one can do it. Everybody does not have the capability or the resources required or the confidence of political parties who can give them tickets."

"But every person has the right to get across his views to the government through the right platform — either through his elected representative or through an appropriate forum," she said.

Soni`s remarks come in the wake of social activist Anna Hazare`s announcement to sit on an indefinite fast from August 16 if the Lokpal Bill was not passed by Parliament by then.

The Monsoon session of Parliament is expected to commence in the middle of July and it is higly unlikely that the deadline set by Hazare could be met, government officials said.

Some political parties have refused to share their views on the Lokpal Bill with their views with the Joint Drafting Committee (JDC) set up in the wake of a fast-unto-death by Hazare in April.

The BJP, the Left parties and the BSP have conveyed to JDC chairman and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that they will share their views when the Bill is taken up in Parliament.

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