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India: TI India counsels activist to start talks with government on anti-corruption law

We appreciate and support the concern and commitment of Shri Anna Hazare in his fight against corruption in general and for enactment of a suitable Lokpal Bill in particular. His initiative expresses the anguish of people of India who have been troubled by the recent scams and indifference of the government during the past in ignoring to undertake measures to deal with the monster of corruption.

The government has to give commitment to take early action and appear to be sincere this time, instead of procrastinating, like it has done for the past 42 years. We have to continue to insist upon the consultation of the clauses of the bill so that the viewpoint of the civil society gets incorporated. We have to aim at ensuring that the final shape of the bill as it would emerge after going through all the legislative processes, must pass muster, the test of being effective, time bound and be implementable, without providing exception which leads to escape routes.

Shri Anna Hazare should continue to lead and advise and undertake measures for cleansing the system that requires more areas of governance to be attended to, aside from the Lokpal Bill. Veteran Gandhian, Shri Shambhu Dutt who started the fight for Lokpal Bill in 1996, is also of the view that the Lokpal Bill should contain certain preventive measures to check corruption, so that appropriate preventive and punitive systems are put in place without delay, as the latter alone cannot stem the rot. This can be done by addressing concerns such as confiscation of property, electoral reforms, ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), Whistleblowers Act and preventing criminals from contesting election.

Earlier on 30 January, 2011, when Shri Shambu Dutt, a Gandhian to the core, had commenced hunger strike to contest on these issues, he was persuaded by associates like Shri Anna Hazare and other representatives of India against Corruption to give up the hunger strike. Time has now come when all meaning citizens of the country and activists like Shri Shambhu Dutt and Shri Anna Hazare should join efforts to engage in an effective and fruitful dialogue with the Government to ensure that the fight against corruption is taken to logical conclusion by putting in place an effective, time bound and implementable Lok Pal bill without loopholes.

We, therefore, earnestly appeal to Shri Anna Hazare to consider our plea and accept the offer of the government for a dialogue and consultation, and ensure that the civil society has been adequately heard in a time bound manner and essurance of the govt that the revised the agreed draft of the lokpal bill is enacted in the monsoon session.

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Anupama Jha, Executive Director
Transparency International India
T: +91 (0)11-2646 0826
M: +91 9818429292