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After consultation here Saturday among the civil society members of the joint committee formed to draft the Lokpal Bill, it was announced that Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde will not resign from the panel.

“The panel members requested me to stay on saying they wanted me to contribute to the drafting of the bill. I have decided to stay on,” Justice Hegde told a television channel Saturday night.

Earlier, after the meeting, the civil society member in the joint committee, Arvind Kejriwal, had also told reporters that Justice Santosh Hegde was not going to resign from the committee.

Hegde had announced he would quit the 10-member panel set up to draft an effective Lokpal Bill after Congress leader Digvijay Singh questioned his success in curbing corruption in Karnataka.

However, he said Saturday that it was for social activist Anna Hazare to decide whether he should quit or not.

“We all requested Justice Santosh Hegde to not to resign and he has decided that he won’t,” said Kejriwal.

According to the activist, the members have decided to write a letter to the prime minister of India as well as the chief justice Monday requesting them to order the highest level of independent enquiry against any member if there are any allegations against them.

“If we are guilty we would be ready for any kind of retribution,” said Kejriwal.

Kejriwal said that the meeting was held to discuss the ways in which countrywide consultations on the bill could be organised and that various groups and fellow activist were also joining them in the movement.

“Medha Patkar along with various civil society groups would also be organising a consultation in Delhi May 8, we welcome them,” said Kejriwal.

Former IPS officer and activist Kiran Bedi added that public consultations were also scheduled for April 26, 27 and 29 in Delhi and that the response has been overwhelming.

In addition, a bilingual website was launched Saturday for people to access the latest draft bill and offer suggestions if any, added Bedi.

“In the last meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee, the civil society members have requested the government to translate the English version of the bill into Hindi for wider circulation,” said Bedi adding that the public can also send comments or suggestions by email to ‘lokpalbillconsultation’.

Bedi further said that Anna Hazare has welcomed the statement of the chairman of the drafting committee Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and hopes that the committee will expeditiously complete the task and provide the country with independent, effective and accountable anti-corruption authority for the country.

The activist also added that the members and activists attached to the movement are completely focused and would not be sidetracked by any kind of smear campaign.

“The members are fully conscious of the urgency to have the right kind of Jan Lokpal bill and have therefore decided to stay focused and not get distracted while malicious, smear campaigns against some of the members of the society,” said Bedi.

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