The sixth round of meeting of the joint committee for the draft Lokpal Bill followed the expected script on Wednesday with both sides finding no point of convergence on several issues. Now, the civil society members in the panel and the government’s representatives will furnish separate drafts for the consideration of the Union cabinet. The next meeting of the panel is slated for June 20.
Members of Team Anna Hazare said the government was adamant and there were differences on fundamental issue like the structure of the institution of Lokpal. "Nothing could be achieved," said Arvind Kejriwal, one of the members. "The government is planning to kill Lokpal before it’s born," he added.
Senior minister Kapil Sibal said, "Structurally there is no convergence of opinion as to what the Lokpal should be." Both the groups would send separate drafts to the cabinet, he added.
The nominees of Anna Hazare have been insisting that the office of the prime minister and the higher judiciary be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal. The government is against this proposal.
Elaborating on another key area of disagreement, activist Prashant Bhushan said, "The government sees the Lokpal as an 11-member body with no investigative machinery working under it. This body will take all the decisions on behalf of the Lokpal.
They see it only as a body to deal with high-level corruption. But our bill proposes a 11-member Lokpal at the top which will supervise and administer a full investigative and vigilance machinery which will deal with investigation of corruption at all levels...among all public servants. It will be a completely independent body."
The civil society members suggested that the Lokpal be empowered to probe corruption cases against officials instead of the practice of departmental probes along with a CBI enquiry, which is being followed now. The government rejected the idea.
Meanwhile, chief ministers of Congress-ruled states have backed the Centre's stand on the Lokpal Bill and opposed bringing the prime minister under the Lokpal’s ambit. The BJP-ruled states have sought wider deliberations before a final view is taken.
Chief ministers of several BJP-ruled states expressed surprise that they were being consulted even when the final draft is not ready. They demanded that their opinion be sought on the whole bill and not just on the six issues where differences have cropped up between the Centre and the civil society.
Earlier, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had sent six questions on the proposed legislation to the chief ministers seeking their opinion on them.
Hazare has threatened to go on indefinite fast again if the Lokpal Bill is not passed by the Parliament by Augusts 15.
Updated Date: Jun 16, 2011 09:45 AM