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SC-ST body submits 'inclusive' version of Ombudsman Bill to PM

New Delhi, Sat, 03 Sep 2011 ANI

New Delhi, Sep 3 (ANI): Stressing that various proposals of the Ombudsman Bill are not socially inclusive, SC-ST body submitted their own version of the anti-graft legislation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday.


The move came a day after the delegation submitted the Bahujan Lokpal (lower caste Ombudsman) Bill to the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the legislation, Abhishek Manu Singhvi.


Led by noted dalit activist-leader Udit Raj, a delegation comprising representatives from the country's scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes and minorities met Singh at his residence to put forth their views on the Ombudsman Bill.


Soon after the meeting, Raj, who is also the president of the All India Confederation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, told mediapersons that he had urged the Prime Minister to allow the parliamentary standing committee to also consider the provisions laid down in the Bahujan Lokpal Bill.


"Today, we had the permission to meet the Prime Minister with a small delegation. We came and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and submitted the Bahujan Lokpal (lower caste Ombudsman) Bill. We requested him to allow our draft to be considered in the parliamentary standing committee," said Raj.


Presently, there are four main versions of the Ombudsman Bill, namely the Jan Lokpal, proposed by veteran anti-graft activist Anna Hazare; Lokpal, proposed by the government; Bahujan Lokpal, drafted by lower caste representatives; and another version submitted by activist Aruna Roy's National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI).


Lauding Hazare's fight against graft, Raj conceded that the lower caste representatives did have differences with civil society activists on certain provisions of the Jan Lokpal version.


"Anna Hazare and we are on the same page as far as the issue of corruption is concerned. He is fighting a great struggle for the benefit of the masses. However, there are a few differences between us on the exclusion of certain aspects from his draft of the Bill. We have submitted a note on this too. The Ombudsman Bill proposed by Anna Hazare does not address the concerns of the lower castes. It does not have any provision to punish those officials who harass members of the lower castes," said Raj.


Raj also called for the inclusion of non-governmental organisations and corporate giants into the legislation's ambit to effectively tackle the menace of corruption, which is deeply entrenched in India's civic and democratic institutions since decades.


"The Ombudsman Bill proposed by Anna Hazare does not include NGOs and corporate houses in its ambit. We differ with them on this aspect. We feel that until corporate houses and industries are not included in this anti-graft legislation, corruption cannot be tackled effectively. It is these corporate firms that are funding the political parties," said Raj. (ANI)


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