In the backdrop of corruption becoming a national issue in the wake of a series of scams and involvement of high and mighty, a group of Civil Society activists led by Anna Hazare belonging to “India Against Corruption” initiative, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on March 7.
The group argued that the country expected meaningful reforms to tackle the menace of corruption in public life. The Prime Minister told the group that “I appreciate and share your concerns on corruption”. India Against Corruption representatives presented the PM a draft of their proposal on Lokpal.
The group accepted the PM’s suggestion that a sub-committee of the Group of Ministers could interact and discuss the draft with the civil society activists. The “India Against Corruption” delegation consisted of Anna Hazare, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Swami Agnivesh, Archbishop Vincent, Kuldip Chikara (Bharat Swabhimaan Nyasa), Darshak Hathi (Art of Living) and P.V. Rajagopal of Ekta Parishad.
Subsequently, the PM constituted a nine-member group of ministers (GoM) to recommend an effective anti-graft mechanism and to discuss the Lokpal bill with civil society activists led by Anna Hazare. Defence minister AK Antony, HRD minister Kapil Sibal, Law minister M Veerappa Moily and minister of state for Personnel V Narayanswami will be the members of this committee.
Though the activists have rejected the latest draft of the Lokpal bill, terming it a cosmetic legislation, the government is hopeful of reaching a consensus. A panel of the government, which has received information from 50 of the 64 Central ministries and departments on the discretionary powers of ministers, has decided to convert their powers into “bonafide duties” of ministers.
It will lay down guidelines on how the ministers will use these powers, which is their discretion for the distribution of sops to individuals and organisations.