Parliament supreme, no one can dictate: Pranab
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The government abandoned the last pretence of its uncomfortable peace with Anna Hazare's activists on the Lokpal Bill this evening and laid down tough new rules of engagement. Pranab Mukherjee, chairman of the joint drafting committee for the Bill, decried the shrill agitation by Team Anna as an attack on the Constitution, and accused Hazare of subverting democracy.
Mukherjee also rejected Team Anna's demand for videotaping the meetings of the joint drafting committee, and said no deadlines could be set on when parliament might pass the Lokpal Bill.
During his one-day fast at Rajghat on June 8, Hazare had said he would begin a new agitation if the Bill was not passed by August 15.
"Today we are being threatened that by August 15 the Bill needs to be passed or else there will be fast unto death. It is Parliament's right to decide on bills and legislations," Mukherjee told a press conference here.
The government, he said, would try to introduce the Bill in the monsoon session, but "nobody can give a guarantee as to how long Parliament is going to take to pass the Bill or when it will be passed. Parliament is Supreme."
The civil society agitation against the government amounted to a "sinister move of destroying the fine balance between the three organs of government enshrined in our Constitution", Mukherjee said. "If someone dictates terms from outside to the government, does it not weaken or subvert democracy? It is a big question."
"The Constitution," Mukherjee said in reference to Team Anna's insistence on pushing through its version of the Lokpal Bill, "has given the power to legislate only to Parliament and the state Assemblies.
Mukherjee rejected demands by civil society activists to bring the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary under the purview of the proposed office of the Lokpal.