Dec 162012

Against the backdrop of the Walmart lobbying issue, union I&B Minister Manish Tewari on Sunday said time has come for India to have a law modelled on the lines of Lobbying Disclosures Act in the US.

Tewari said any such regulation should make it compulsory for political lobbyists to be registered and make periodic disclosures of amount spent.

The Information and Broadcasting Minister said he was making the suggestion in an “individual capacity.”

“Time has come. We need to put in place a statutory architecture, which makes these declarations essentials, even legislators, MPs and people in the executive, if they have in the past or continue to represent a particular company or a group of company, that interest must be declared even before they participate in a debate,” Tewari told Karan Thapar’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’ programme on CNN-IBN.

Tewari made these remarks in response to questions on the Walmart lobbying issue.

At the same time, he sought to make a difference between lobbying and illegal gratification.

“How can you be certain that lobbying automatically translates into illegal gratification? There is nothing to suggest either in jurisprudence or otherwise that the term lobbying is synonymous with illegal gratification. It could it equally couldn’t be. Therefore, an inquiry will bring out the facts and Govt has agreed to inquiry,” Tewari said.

Tewari said that law will take its own course if investigations establish that there has been any violation by the US global retail giant in its attempts to gain entry into the Indian market.

He also said it was not proper to make any judgement one way or the either before probe is completed.

“If at all any investigation does conclusively establish that there has been a violation of the Indian laws….law will take its own course,” he added.

Tewari at the same time repeatedly cautioned against “innuendos and insinuations” till an inquiry is completed.

He said Government has already announced a probe by a former judge into the allegations of Walmart spending money on lobbying to get entry into Indian market and that now “the inquiry commission should be allowed to come to its independent conclusion.

The minister also hit out at Bharatiya Janata Party over the issue alleging that the opposition party has “reversed criminal jurisprudence on its head”.

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