Indian parliament to debate Hazare's bill


Veteran Indian social activist, Anna Hazare sits during his "fast unto death" against corruption in New Delhi on April 7, 2011.



In a concession to anti-corruption protesters, India's parliament will today debate not only its own proposed bill to create a national ombudsman but also the bill drafted by the team led by social activist Anna Hazare, the Hindustan Times reports.

Despite reservations from various quarters about the precedent set by caving in to Hazare's demands, the threat of his worsening health forced the government's hand. Thursday, an emotional Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted to errors in judgment in a televised address but maintained his stance that his own integrity is beyond reproach – a point that few have disputed, though they hold him responsible for failing to curb the wholesale theft that occurred on his watch.

In parliament today, a motion will be brought to facilitate a combined discussion on the Lokpal Bill, the Jan Lokpal Bill brought out by Anna Hazare as also the drafts prepared by activist Aruna Roy and Jai Prakash Narain, the Hindustan Times quoted sources as saying.

The drafts differ on various points, including the mechanisms for monitoring the judiciary, the selection process for the ombudsman and the method for policing the lower bureaucracy – which is responsible for the petty corruption which touches the common man most directly, but is also so vast that it could overwhelm the ombudsman.

Though it is not possible that the actual Lokpal Bill will be passed during today's session, various sources have said that if the parliament passes a broad resolution promising to draft a strong ombudsman's law – not the watered down version that the government initially proposed – then Hazare will end his fast today.