manmohan singhThe National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) has proposed bringing the Prime Minister under the Lokpal with the safeguard that the executive head can only be investigated on the recommendation of the full benches of the Lokpal and the Supreme Court.

At a consultative meeting in Delhi on Friday, the NCPRI, which has two National Advisory Council members, Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander, on its working committee, sharply critiqued the draft Lokpal Bill which was released by the five ministers on the joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee. The NCPRI called the ministerial draft “inadequate and limited,” and in its place unveiled a basket of anti-corruption measures which it positioned as an alternative to the ministerial draft as well as the Jan Lokpal Bill drawn up by Anna Hazare’s team of activists.

The meeting also cautioned against excessive haste in getting the anti-corruption law on board. Ms. Roy said a landmark legislation such as this could not be held hostage to unrealistic deadlines: “Just to get a law in order to get a law and be burdened by it is not a solution. We need to budget for time.”

It was clear at the meeting that the NCPRI felt discomfited by the usurping of civil society space by the Anna Hazare group. Participants asked to know who constituted civil society, and if any one outfit could claim to represent the people at large.

Earlier, the NCPRI rejected the idea of a single, powerful Lokpal, arguing instead that corruption and grievances needed to be addressed by a multiplicity of bodies, each of which would be individually accountable to the public, so that there was no one institution concentrating too much power. The organisation also held that merely enacting new laws would not end corruption when the same objective could be achieved by strengthening existing frameworks and laws.


Report by Bikram Singh Rana