Saturday, April 16, 2011

Joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill meets for first time

New Delhi, Apr 16 (PTI) Eight days after Gandhian Anna Hazare labeled off his fast demanding a more steady Lokpal law, the joint committee to draft the bill met here today for the chiefly time amid a controversy over a CD allegedly involving eminent lawyer and panel co-chairman Shanti Bhushan.

The meeting chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was held at North Block and attended by Ministers P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, M Veerappa Moily and Salman Khurshid and Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan according to the civil society side.

The deliberations came in the backdrop of a controversy more than a CD in circulation which purpotedly has conversations with senior Bhushan, a former Law Minister, and politicians Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh. Bhushan has termed the CD as "clearly fabricated".

Hazare had on Saturday last called off his fast-unto-death agitation after municipal conceded his clamor for a Joint Drafting Committee on the legislation.

Both the sides had finetuned their strategy during separate meetings last evening.

Government argued it had an open mind on the proposed legislation and hoped which discussions will pave the way for a convergence of ideas. The activists on the half said they would fancy the Jan Lokpal Bill to be the base for the discussions and would press for videographing of the proceedings.

The activists'' part as well put up it basic which they can press for bringing over Lokpal''s ambit Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and bureaucrats. They, however, added that the government''s objections were negotiable.

Though Hazare was of the view the the higher judiciary should not be under the ambit of Lokpal, the activists rejected his argument and decided to contend for pressing its inclusion in the legislation.

Kejriwal stated only criminal misconduct by the judges is being sought to be probed under the Lok Pal initiative and not not professional misconduct.

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