PIL filed in SC challenging validity of Lokpal Bill drafting panel

United News of India

New Delhi, April 19, 2011

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court yesterday challenging the validity of the Government notification appointing the Lokpal Bill drafting panel in which five members are from civil society.

Petitioner M L Sharma, an advocate, has also prayed to the apex court to order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the CD controversy and has also demanded action against former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, co-chairman of the drafting panel, for professional misconduct.

The petitioner has contended that private individuals cannot be made members of the panel for drafting a Bill which is going to be placed before Parliament as it is the job of the Government to prepare laws and to get the approval from both houses of Parliament and also the consent of the President of India.

The Centre, which was initially hesitant in issuing the notification, however, gave in when civil rights activist Anna Hazare started a fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar for enactment of the Lokpal Bill which has been hanging fire for last over 42 years.

The proposed law is meant to curb the rampant corruption in the country, particularly among public servants including politicians and bureaucrats.

The controversial CD which has been circulated contains a purported conversation between former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, expelled Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh and Mr Shanti Bhushan and the most damaging part is about a sitting Supreme Court judge who according to the conversation in the CD, can be fixed for Rs four crore.

Contents of the CD have been vehemently denied by Mr Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant Bhushan, according to whom the CD is tampered and spliced at six places and crucial part of the sentence have been deleted to create a false impression that Mr Shanti Bhushan and his son, who is also a member of the drafting panel, are involved in fixing the judge.

The PIL is likely to come for hearing within the next few days.