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SC says no to interference in Lokpal bill drafting committee

New Delhi, Fri, 29 Apr 2011 NI Wire

NEW DELHI: In a major development The Supreme Court said it will not interfere in the constitution of the joint committee for drafting of the Lokpal Bill and termed the petitions "premature".

The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia decided to adjourn the hearing on three public interest litigations (PILs) till mid-July. The Apex court didn't accept the petitioner's plea that the committee would draft the bill by June 30.

Honorable justice said, "The petitions are premature and can't be taken as the Lokpal Bill was yet to be passed."

The bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia and other two members justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said, "It is still not the law".

However the heard all three petitions separately and voiced similar opinion till July and said "We will go strictly by the law,"

While hearing one of the petitions, the bench said, "Some of the averments in the petition are untenable in law."

It is worth mentioning here that some public-spirited individuals and advocates had challenged the notification regarding the constitution of the committee for drafting of the Lokpal Bill.

The PILs have challenged the power of Lokpal to work as a watchdog over the judiciary saying it would be unconstitutional.

In one petition filed by Mahan Dal, a political party in Haryana it was said that a bill of such a great national importance shouldn't be drafted in haste or under pressure from Anna Hazare and others as it would set a bad example.

"Whether a decision affecting the whole of the nation can be taken so suddenly without having a public debate on such a national issue of great public importance?

"Whether the government could take an action under the threat or pressure from one of the citizens of the country and whether this would not create a bad precedent for future?

"Ultimately the government succumbed to the pressure of Anna Hazare and hurriedly came out with a resolution on April 8 2011," it was said in one of the petitions filed by counsel R K Kapoor.

The PIL also said that the composition of the joint drafting committee was totally partisan, arbitrary and not in national interest.

The members of the committee include Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, M Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khursheed.

The civil society representatives are Hazare, Justice (retd) N Santosh Hegde, senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan and his advocate-son Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.

"Enactment of Lokpal would be against the spirit of Article 50 of the Constitution of India. It will wipe out the separation of the judiciary from the executive.

"A decision affecting the whole nation cannot be taken so suddenly without having a public debate on such a national issue of great public importance. The government cannot take action under threat or pressure from one of the citizens of the country and such succumbing to pressure tactics would create a bad precedent for future," it was said in one of the petitions filed.

The petition also said that the joint drafting committee should be expanded and more persons from different fields like women, minorities, media, academics etc. and others be included to give it a un-biased and non-partisan touch.

In second petition Kaushal Kishore Shukla, through counsel Jitender Singh, had demanded inclusion of Leader of the Opposition in the drafting panel.

In third PIL advocate Manoharlal Sharma challenged the notification but also asked the Apex court to order a CBI inquiry into alleged illegal activities of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, the father-son duo.

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