By Ritu Sharma
Church leaders welcomed the passage of an anti-corruption bill through the lower house of parliament last night, but social activist Anna Hazare continued his hunger strike for a stronger law on corruption.
“It is a historic development as this government was able to pass the anti-corruption bill after 42 years,” said Jesuit human rights activist Father Cedric Prakash.
The bill was expected to be presented in the upper house today. It will become law after both houses pass it and the president endorses it.
Since 1968, various governments have unsuccessfully tried to bring eight drafts of an anti-corruption bill in parliament.
Fr Prakash said that the country can never have a perfect anti-graft law as corruption has to be dealt with at grassroots level.
“But with the passage of this bill, we at least have some kind of a law to deal with the menace of corruption,” he said.
He said that the federal government will have to make sure the law is implemented properly.
Reverend Richard Howel, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, considered the bill was a step forward to curb corruption at all levels.
Swamy Agnivesh, a social reformist who was part of the anti-corruption movement but withdrew later owing to internal differences, said the passage of the bill was not rushed-up as it was debated in lower house for the whole day.
Meanwhile, Hazare entered the second day of his three-day fast today.
Hazare, who is suffering from a chest infection and fever, is demanding the inclusion of the country’s top investigating agency under the purview of the bill.
“Hazare should withdraw his fast as fasting does not help eradicate corruption,” Fr Prakash said.
He said that Hazare and his team should allow the parliament to do its job.