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Govt seeks law ministry's advice on disclosing Lokpal audio recordings


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dr.s.malhotra

Govt seeks law ministry's advice on disclosing Lokpal audio recordings

 

PTI | Sep 5, 2011, 05.17PM IST Times of India

can be seen here : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Govt-seeks-law-ministrys-advice-on-disclosing-Lokpal-audio-recordings/articleshow/9872474.cms

 

 

NEW DELHI: The Government has sought the advice of the law ministry on making public the audio recordings of proceedings of the joint drafting comittee on the Lokpal Bill constituted after Anna Hazare's fast in April.

 

The Committee comprising five members of team Anna and five cabinet ministers was formed to finalise the draft of the Lokpal Bill and audio recordings of the proceedings were made.

 

"Joint drafting committee was constituted by notification of the ministry of law and justice wherein JDC was supposed to evolve its own procedure.

 

"It may be further noted that the matter relating to RTI queries on audio-recordings of JDC has been referred to department of legal affairs in ministry of law and justice for clarification," an RTI response from department of personnel and training has said.

 

Activist S C Agrawal had sought to know from the personnel department the audio recordings of the proceedings of the committee in the form of a compact CDs.

 

The department said it has posted the details of proceedings in the form of minutes on its website but the audio-recordings were not available with it.

 

The Committee constituted on April 10 included finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, the then law minister Veerappa Moily, telecom and HRD minister Kapil Sibal and the then minority affairs minister, Salman Khursheed.

 

The civil society members included Anna Hazare, Justice N Santosh Hedge, Shanti Bhushan, Prashan Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal.

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As reported by Abantika Ghosh in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 13 Sep 2011:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/9961318.cms

 

Lokpal audio logs 'lost in transit'

 

NEW DELHI: A week after the department of personnel and training (DopT) had said it has sought the law ministry's opinion on making audio tapes of the Lokpal joint drafting committee deliberations public under the RTI Act, the ministry is yet to receive any such query.

 

"It was only from media reports that we came to know that DoPT has sought our opinion regarding disclosure of Lokpal deliberations' audio recordings. However, no such file has arrived yet," a senior official in the ministry said.

 

RTI activist S C Agrawal had filed an RTI application seeking copies of the audio recording of the deliberations of the Lokpal joint drafting committee's eight meetings held in May and June. The panel, which had five representatives each from Team Anna and the Union Cabinet, was formed after Anna Hazare's five-day fast in April demanding that the Jan Lokpal bill be passed in Parliament. Officials had then said that though the minutes of the Lokpal joint committee meetings were uploaded on the DoPT website, they needed to seek legal opinion on whether audio tapes could be made public under the RTI Act.

 

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, then law minister Veerappa Moily, telecom and HRD minister Kapil Sibal and then minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid represented the Union Cabinet. Anna Hazare, Justice N Santosh Hedge, Shanti Bhushan, Prashan Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal were part of Team Anna, who had insisted on making video recordings of the proceedings. However, the government had agreed to make only audio recordings of the deliberations.

 

Law ministry officials claimed that DoPT's query is superfluous as the RTI Act does not make any distinction on the basis of the form in which the information is stored. "The law is clear that provided the nature of the information is not such as is specifically exempted, if a government department has access to it, it should be disclosed. It does not make any exceptions based on the form of the information. Sending such basic queries amounts to creating complications where there are none."

 

The RTI Act defines information as "Any material, in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force."

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ganpat1956

India | Updated Oct 09, 2011 at 08:52pm IST

 

By : Marya Shakil, CNN-IBN

 

New Delhi: In a concession to Team Anna, the government on Sunday agreed to make the audio recordings of proceedings of the Joint Committee public. The committee was constituted to draft the Lokpal Bill. But sources say the disclosure will be selective, nothing which would hamper the government's work in drafting the Lokpal bill or which embarrasses the government will be disclosed.

 

However, Justice Santosh Hegde spoke to CNN-IBN and said he is sceptical of the government's move. While Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there is nothing to comment about.

 

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had earlier refused to bring out the deliberations of the Committee in public domain, saying it would need the Law Ministry's nod. The new position was revealed when an RTI activist was told he could get access to the audio recordings.

 

The Joint Drafting Committee, comprising five members of Team Anna and an equal number of Cabinet ministers, was formed to finalise the draft of the Lokpal Bill.

 

The timing of the government's decision to release these audio tapes is significant. Team Anna and Anna have been in the past constantly been targeting the Congress party in the Hisar by-poll.

They have been openly campaigning saying that the Congress party has so far failed to bring out an effective Lokpal and so the Congress candidate should be defeated in the Congress by-poll elections.

 

What is also important is the government will not be releasing all the details in these audio tapes, there will be some kind of selective release and this has come essentially because of the RTI application that was filed by Subhash Agarwal, who wanted all the details, particularly the audio clippings of the closed door meeting that happened between Team Anna and the 5 members of the cabinet be released and made public.

 

But it's clear that the government will be cautious in not releasing anything that can affect the draft of the Lokpal Bill and it has made it clear that this has been done only after the law ministry gave its nod to the DoPT that it can go ahead and release these audiotapes.

 

It is indeed a welcome step of the Union government to accept the demand of providing the audio tapes of the joint drafting committee under the RTI act and now the truth will come before the public, what the Civil society members said and what the union ministers said in those meetings.

 

Source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/govt-concedes-to-rti-query-releases-lokpal-tapes/191510-3.html

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RTI effect: Govt to release Lokpal tapes

 

As reported by ibnlive.in.com on Oct 09, 2011:

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/govt-concedes-to-rti-query-releases-lokpal-tapes/191510-3.html?google_editors_picks=true

 

New Delhi: In a concession to Team Anna, the government on Sunday agreed to make the audio recordings of proceedings of the Joint Committee public. The committee was constituted to draft the Lokpal Bill. But sources say the disclosure will be selective, nothing which would hamper the government's work in drafting the Lokpal bill or which embarrasses the government will be disclosed.

 

However, Justice Santosh Hegde spoke to CNN-IBN and said he is sceptical of the government's move. While Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there is nothing to comment about.

 

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had earlier refused to bring out the deliberations of the Committee in public domain, saying it would need the Law Ministry's nod. The new position was revealed when an RTI activist was told he could get access to the audio recordings.

 

The Joint Drafting Committee, comprising five members of Team Anna and an equal number of Cabinet ministers, was formed to finalise the draft of the Lokpal Bill.

 

The timing of the government's decision to release these audio tapes is significant. Team Anna and Anna have been in the past constantly been targeting the Congress party in the Hisar by-poll.

 

They have been openly campaigning saying that the Congress party has so far failed to bring out an effective Lokpal and so the Congress candidate should be defeated in the Congress by-poll elections.

 

What is also important is the government will not be releasing all the details in these audio tapes, there will be some kind of selective release and this has come essentially because of the RTI application that was filed by Subhash Agarwal, who wanted all the details, particularly the audio clippings of the closed door meeting that happened between Team Anna and the 5 members of the cabinet be released and made public.

 

But it's clear that the government will be cautious in not releasing anything that can affect the draft of the Lokpal Bill and it has made it clear that this has been done only after the law ministry gave its nod to the DoPT that it can go ahead and release these audiotapes.

 

It is indeed a welcome step of the Union government to accept the demand of providing the audio tapes of the joint drafting committee under the RTI act and now the truth will come before the public, what the Civil society members said and what the union ministers said in those meetings.

 

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ambrish.p

As reported in Dainik Jagran on 10/10/11

 

सार्वजनिक होंगे लोकपाल बैठकों के ऑडियो टेप

 

नई दिल्ली, एजेंसी : केंद्र सरकार लोकपाल विधेयक का मसौदा तैयार करने के लिए बनी संयुक्त समिति की बैठकों के ऑडियो रिकार्डिग जारी करने पर तैयार हो गई है। कानून मंत्रालय की मंजूरी का हवाला देकर बातचीत का ब्योरा सार्वजनिक करने से मना कर चुके कार्मिक और प्रशिक्षण विभाग (डीओपीटी) के अवर सचिव अमरजीत सिंह ने सुभाष चंद्र अग्रवाल की आरटीआइ अर्जी के जवाब में कहा है कि बैठकों की ऑडियो रिकार्डिग मिल गई हैं। इसकी नौ सीडी हैं और 450 रुपये जमा करके सीडी की प्रतियां प्राप्त की जा सकती हैं। लोकपाल विधेयक का मसौदा तैयार करने के लिए बनाई गई संयुक्त समिति में टीम अन्ना के पांच सदस्य और उतने ही कैबिनेट मंत्री शामिल थे। पूर्व में इंकार करने के बाद विभाग ने हालिया जवाब में अपना रुख बदल लिया है और आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता से ऑडियो रिकार्डिग प्राप्त करने के लिए 450 रुपये का अतिरिक्त शुल्क जमा करने को कहा है। अग्रवाल ने कहा कि वह विरोध स्वरूप सोमवार को यह राशि जमा करा देंगे क्योंकि आरटीआइ अर्जी के जवाब में जानकारी उस स्थिति में नि:शुल्क मुहैया कराई जानी चाहिए जब वह 30 दिन की समय अवधि के भीतर नहीं दी गई हो। इससे पहले डीओपीटी ने कहा था कि उसे सरकार तथा टीम अन्ना के बीच बंद कमरे में हुई बातचीत की ऑडियो रिकॉर्डिग सार्वजनिक करने के लिए कानून मंत्रालय की मंजूरी की जरूरत है। डीओपीटी से मिले जवाब के अनुसार, कानून और न्याय मंत्रालय की अधिसूचना के तहत संयुक्त मसौदा समिति (जेडीसी) का गठन किया गया था जिसमें जेडीसी को अपनी प्रक्रिया तय करनी थी। जेडीसी की ऑडियो रिकार्डिग पर आरटीआइ के तहत पूछे गए सवालों के संबंध में मामला कानून मंत्रालय के कानूनी मामलों के विभाग के पास स्पष्टीकरण के लिए भेज दिया गया है। अग्रवाल ने सरकार के अब बदले हुए फैसले का स्वागत करते हुए कहा कि यह पूर्ण पारदर्शिता की दिशा में अच्छी शुरुआत है। उन्होंने कहा, जब प्रमुख केंद्रीय मंत्रियों ने इसके दुरुपयोग का आरोप लगाते हुए आरटीआइ के उपयोग की भ*र्त्सना की थी, ऐसे समय लोकपाल विधेयक पर संयुक्त मसौदा समिति में हुए पूरे विचार-विमर्श के ऑडियो रिकार्डिग उपलब्ध कराने के केंद्र सरकार के निर्णय का स्वागत किए जाने की जरूरत है। उन्होंने कहा, समिति की बैठक में क्या केंद्रीय मंत्रियों और क्या सिविल सोसाइटी के सदस्यों ने कहा, यह सच्चाई जनता के सामने आनी चाहिए। यदि आरटीआइ न होती तो ए. राजा और सुरेश कलमाड़ी आज जेल में न होते। इस बीच मसौदा समिति में सिविल सोसाइटी के सदस्य और कर्नाटक के पूर्व लोकायुक्त संतोष हेगड़े ने सीटी में छेड़छाड़ किए जाने की आशंका जताई है। उन्होंने कहा, मेरी समस्या सिर्फ इतनी है कि यदि उन्होंने इसमें संपादन किया और कुछ ऐसा किया जो दोनों (सिविल सोसाइटी और मसौदा समिति में केंद्रीय मंत्रियों) के बीच हुई बातचीत के बड़े हित में न हो, तब यह कुछ विवाद पैदा कर सकता है। वहीं कांग्रेस ने सरकार के फैसले को सराहनीय बताते हुए स्पष्ट किया यह बिना किसी दबाव में किया गया है। पार्टी प्रवक्ता राशिद अल्वी ने कहा, हम सरकार के फैसले की सराहना करते हैं.. लोगों को हमारे और उनके (टीम अन्ना) के कदम की जानकारी मिलनी चाहिए।

Source: http://in.jagran.yahoo.com/epaper/article/index.php?page=article&choice=print_article&location=49&category=&articleid=111723281532572480

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Sajib Nandi

Government wanted to split us, says Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal

 

As reported by www.ndtv.com on October 11, 2011:

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/government-wanted-to-split-us-says-team-anna-member-arvind-kejriwal-140209

 

New Delhi: With the Lokpal Committee tapes bringing into public domain the now well known differences and hostilities between the UPA government and Anna Hazare's team, the battle lines seem to have been drawn sharper by either side.

 

The audio recordings of the proceedings of the Joint Drafting Committee constituted to draft the Lokpal Bill were made public by the government after a Right to Information application by activist SC Agrawal sought access to them. The files reveal what transpired at the Drafting Committee meetings and why talks broke down between members of the civil society and the government.

 

Speaking about these tapes, Arvind Kejriwal, the key architect of Anna's movement, said they were proof that the government was never serious about the bill. He also said that the government "tried its best to split Team Anna."

 

Interestingly, Mr Kejriwal also added that the only minister who showed flexibility throughout the talks on the Lokpal Bill was Pranab Mukherjee, who he said was stalled by his Cabinet colleagues Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram.

 

 

The Joint Drafting Committee, comprising of five members from Team Anna and an equal number of Cabinet ministers, was formed to finalise the draft of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill. The ministers on the committee included Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid. Civil society members included Anna Hazare, Justice Santosh Hedge, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal.

 

Between April and June, Anna Hazare's team of activists met with the government nine times to discuss the bill, which creates a new ombudsman agency that will investigate complaints of corruption against government servants.

 

The Drafting Committee was embedded with bitter mistrust and disagreement. Finally, in June, the activists and the ministers agreed they would present separate drafts of the same bill. What angered the activists was that their version was reduced to virtual footnotes on the government's version. In protest, 74-year-old Anna began his second hunger strike in August, which ended when Parliament agreed to consider his vision of the Lokpal Bill.

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Sajib Nandi

Lokpal tapes: High-voltage exchanges between Kejriwal and Sibal

 

As reported by http://www.dnaindia.com on Oct 11, 2011:

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_lokpal-tapes-high-voltage-exchanges-between-kejriwal-and-sibal_1597717

 

Otherwise by and large cordial, the Lokpal committee discussions between union ministers and Team Anna members "degenerated" into a spat on one occasion on the statements made by the activists against the government and its functionaries.

 

"They (activists) have been rather generous in their praise towards us, by calling us liars, cheats and conspirators and Anna Hazare ji himself, I heard on television yesterday, saying that whatever whatever we had promised at the time when he was on fast we have reneged on that promise," Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal said.

 

The audio recordings of the conversations made public through RTI show high voltage exchanges between Sibal and activist Arvind Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

 

The minister said that "Before the start of this meeting, I would like to know how and when we have cheated you, lied to you, conspired against you and how and when we have been arrogant and in what manner have we gone back on any promise that we made to you before any substantive discussion is taken forward."

 

In response, Kejirwal said there have been "utterances" from both sides.

 

"No, No, No, you have said we have lied. Please tell us when any of us lied? When any one of us cheated?," Sibal said.

 

"Would request if we can come to discussion on the bill rather than...,"Kejriwal said.

 

"No Sir, you have to. You have said publicly outside. You must place on record in these proceedings because these are being audio-taped as to when and how we lied, when and how we cheated, when and how we conspired and when we have gone back on promise and on what?," Sibal said.

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