Moily rules out two drafts of Lokpal bill

Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily Thursday said that if the logjam between government representatives and civil society members on the anti-graft Lokpal bill continues in the joint drafting panel’s meeting June 20, the union cabinet would be apprised of the differences among members but it would not be presented two drafts.

‘There will be no two drafts,’ he told reporters at a press conference here and ruled out the possibility of government representatives and civil society members drafting their own separate versions of the Lokpal bill for cabinet’s consideration.

The stand taken by Moily, who is the convenor of joint drafting committee, is contrary to the claim made by activist Arvind Kejriwal that two separate draft bills on Lokpal would be sent to the cabinet.

The next meeting of the panel is slated for June 20.

While describing reformer Anna Hazare and his team’s approach in fighting corruption as ‘obstructionists’, Moily said they were shifting stances and demands, and this would not help in achieving the mandate of the committee.

Moily said the government representatives accepted 34 of the 40 suggestions by the members of the civil society.

He said that the government had made its position clear by putting every bit of information on its website.

The law minister said there were differences between the government representatives and members of the civil society on key issues, including on bringing the judiciary under the purview of Lokpal, scrutiny of the conduct of the members of legislatures, action against government employees and bringing the prime minister within the ambit of the ombudsman.

On being asked about Hazare’s proposal to once again go on fast in support of his demand for a stringent Lokpal bill, Moily said: ‘Nobody could be stopped from undertaking a fast but the question is for what ends.’

The minister said that it showed  a ‘pre-determined mindset’ and did not positively reflect democratic expression of views.

Moily said that the government would stick to its stand and finalise the Lokpal bill by June 30 so that it could be introduced in parliament during the coming monsoon session.

Plan to settle all pending cases within three years: Moily

The central government has taken initiatives to dispose of all pending cases in various courts across the country within three years, union Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily said here Saturday.

 “The union government, besides taking steps for judicial reforms, is also modernising court administration across the country with the latest information technology,” Moily said after inaugurating a new building of the Agartala bench of the Gauhati High Court.

“To settle all pending cases at lower levels within six months, the ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ (rural courts) along with a mobile court system was introduced in October last year across India,” he said.

“The setting up of ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ and introducing mobile courts were significant steps to reduce arrears of legal disputes. The new systems are likely to reduce around 50 percent of the pending cases in subordinate courts,” the minister said.

The union government has taken a series of steps to provide speedy justice to people living in Maoist-ravaged areas, he said.”The centre in association with the state government has taken a number of initiatives to give speedy justice to poor, tribal and economically backward litigants living in the Maoist-devastated areas and states,” the law minister said.

To the applause from lawyers, legislators, bureaucrats and people, the law minister said that necessary process has been initiated to set up a full fledged high court in Tripura within the next few months.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who heads the state’s law department, said that the rampant corruption in judiciary must be checked.

Gauhati High Court Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur said that the latest information technology to be used in the Agartala bench of the high court would be the first of its kind in the country.

India, US can learn from constitutional experience: Moily

The Indian constitution is flexible and vulnerable to Supreme Court action, union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said, adding that India and the US can learn from each other’s experiences.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Indian Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights’ here Wednesday.

‘This vulnerability of the (Indian) constitution is an issue, is a concern and is a problem,’ Moily said at the discussion, organised ahead of the visit of US President Barack Obama to India.

Former attorney general Soli J. Sorabjee, former Indian ambassador to US Abid Hussain, Deputy Chief of the US Mission Donald Lu and several diplomats and constitutional experts participated in the discussion, organised by the Indo-American Friendship Association.

Moily said the constitution was not a legality-based document but more a document reflecting the social rights and concerns through the fundamental rights.

He said the constitution had drawn insight and influence from various constitutions, including the US statute, but the basic idealism of the constitution was drawn from the ‘idea of India – a 5000-year-old civilisational idea.’

In the march of time, Indian constitution will have to learn much from US experience and vice versa, he said.

Abid Hussain said that under the guidance of Jawaharlal Nehru, India opted for a modernist constitution.

The debates of the constitutional assembly is an excellent record of varied discourse where the three different streams – Hindutva, pluralist and modernist – were discussed threadbare, he added.

Donald Lu said that the human rights part of the US constitution evolved late through the Bill of Rights.

The American pro-independence slogan of ‘no taxation without representation’ and the evolution of the Indian freedom struggle had a lot of things in common, Lu added.

Aberrations in judiciary reflection of society: Moily

The few aberrations in an otherwise highly efficient judiciary are only a reflection of society and these have to be removed, Union Minister of Law and Justice M. Veerappa Moily said on Sunday. Speaking at a regional review meeting of the implementation of the 13th finance commission

recommendations on improving justice delivery and other matters here, Moily also underlined the importance of retaining the independence of the judiciary.

The minister made these observations in the presence of chief justices of five high courts of the western region.

“The judiciary in India is of the high standards. Some aberrations are there, but they are a reflection of society. These aberrations have to be removed,” Moily said in his written statement, without making any direct reference to corruption in the judicial system.

The western regional meeting of chief justices comes after similar consultative meetings in Guwahati, Kolkata and Chennai organised to discuss the disbursement and utilisation of the Rs.5,000 crore allotted by the 13th finance commission this financial year for improving courts and the justice delivery system.

Out of the allocation, Rs.2,500 crore would be spent on creation of morning and evening courts for disposal of petty cases.

Around Rs.750 crore will be spent on creation of an alternative dispuste redressal system and Rs.100 crore will be spend on forming Lok Adalats for quick disposal of cases.