In the coming meetings of the joint drafting panel, Lokpal activists are set to push for voluntary disclosure of assets and interests in the private sector too.
“We are preparing a proposal that all institutions which have assets higher than a prescribed limit should disclose details about their ownership patterns, management and source of funding to ensure some kind of transparency in all institutions. There will be no exception, all organisations , business houses, media institutions will be covered under this. This has not yet been discussed with the government but we plan to take it up in subsequent meetings ,” lawyer and joint drafting panel member Prashant Bhushan said.
Apart from making the institutions in question accountable , the move, if effected, will mean that covert ownership of ministers and politicians in big ticket companies or their dabblings in the day to day affairs of such entities would be out in the open. The matter has been dealt with in the code of conduct for ministers and last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked his ministers to reveal their business interests.
Bhushan was replying to a question about Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s statement in on Sunday that not just the PM and the judiciary but also NGOs and corporates should be included in the ambit of the Lokpal bill. RTI activist and fellow committee member Arvind Kejriwal said this was in keeping with the spirit of the UN Convention against Corruption from which most of the tenets – like inclusion of PM and judiciary in Lokpal ambit – have been derived.
“There is no question of this taking the focus away from the Lokpal bill because this too emanates from the UN Convention Against Corruption from where most of the principles of the Janlokpal Bill come. Now that the government has ratified the convention , this is an international obligation of the government ,” Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal added that corporates and NGOs were already in the ambit of the Lokpal. “There is no confusion about that but what now seems strange is that the Congress party is talking in many voices on the issue. Once its present ministers felt PM should be included , now they do not. The PM himself had said he does not have a problem in being probed by Lokpal and now the latest comments from Digvijay Singh only seem to confuse matters. We want the government to come clean in its views without the doublespeak,” Kejriwal said.