Statement by Shri P. Chidambaram at GoM Briefing on Lokpal Bill
Following is the Opening Statement by Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shri P. Chidambaram, at the GoM briefing on the outcome of the All-Party Meeting on the Lokpal Bill:
As you are aware, there was an all-party meeting yesterday. It started at half-past four, went on till nearly quarter to eight. Apart from the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister – the Finance Minister is also chairman of the joint drafting committee – there were 31 speakers representing the political parties. Both Leaders of Opposition, Ms. Sushma Swaraj and Mr. Arun Jaitley, intervened. We are very happy with the outcome of the meeting. The meeting adopted unanimously a one-sentence resolution which read that the government would bring a bill in Parliament in accordance with established procedure. All parties which participated in the meeting, emphasized the primacy of the Parliamentary procedure, and the primacy of the role of political parties to pilot an approved legislation. We will therefore, bring a bill in the monsoon session of Parliament. That bill will be examined in accordance with established procedure. While government will make every effort to pass the bill at the earliest, you will appreciate that that will depend upon the Members of Parliament and the desire to follow established procedure.
The other aspect, which was emphasized by every political party yesterday, was that whatever laws are made, must be within the Constitution. We do not see this as an occasion to rewrite the Constitution. We are drafting a bill. In fact, even in the past, all drafts of the Lokpal bill were based on the premise that the bill will be within the Constitution. That point was emphasized by more than one speaker yesterday.
Most political parties said they would reserve comment on specific provisions of the Lokpal bill, until they saw a Cabinet-approved draft bill, which I think is a perfectly legitimate and correct position to take. Some parties, of course, offered their preliminary views on some provisions – whether the judiciary should be included or not, whether the Prime Minister’s office should be brought under the purview of the Lokpal or not. On these, some parties did give their views. But our impression is - all these views are subject to change as we go through the established procedure. Only when they see the final, Cabinet-approved draft of the bill, will they be able to take their final position. So altogether, Government is very happy with the outcome of the all-party meeting yesterday. We thank all the parties for participating in the meeting, and offering constructive suggestions. The meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere. At the end of the meeting, there was some discussion among leaders on the sidelines, and we are confident that we can take the process forward, bring a bill in the monsoon session, and try to get it passed as early as possible.