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Lokpal meetings: The story so far

The journey for the lokpal bill joint drafting committee, which ended its meetings today with an exchange of drafts of the government and civil-society versions of the bill, has been a turbulent one - with more differences than agreements.

delhi Updated: Jun 21, 2011 19:46 IST

The journey for the lokpal bill joint drafting committee, which ended its meetings on Tuesday with an exchange of drafts of the government and civil-society versions of the bill, has been a turbulent one - with more differences than agreements.

Co-chaired by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and senior Supreme Court lawyer Shanti Bhushan, the joint committee has ministers Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, M Veerappa Moily and P Chidambaram from the government's side and Anna Hazare, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Santosh Hegde as civil society members.

April 9: Joint drafting committee is formed following the hunger strike by Gandhian Anna Hazare that attracted country-wide support.

April 16: The first meeting of the joint committee was cordial, with both sides exchanging drafts. The civil society members had even modified their version, the janlokpal bill.

May 2: Second meeting was announced to be "very good" and with "no difference of opinion" by Kapil Sibal. Civil society members said the meeting discussed the basic principles of the act and it was "conducive".

May 7: The two sides agreed on the lokpal having powers to initiate investigation and prosecution. Sibal said the meeting was "exceptionally constructive". He said it was agreed the authority should be independent and have financial independence.

May 23: Joint panel agreed on the issue of empowering the lokpal on seizing of assets of accused.

May 30: Major differences appeared as the government disagreed on including prime minister, Supreme Court and high court judges and MPs under the purview of lokpal.

June 6: Scheduled a day after the crackdown against yoga guru Baba Ramdev's fast in Ramlila ground of Delhi, civil society members boycotted the meeting. Government representatives attended the meeting.

June 15: Meeting saw major differences. While the civil-society members said that the government was trying to kill the bill before it was even formed, government members alleged that the civil society's version will create a structure superseding parliament.

Consensus could not be reached on inclusion of prime minister and Supreme and high court judges.

June 20: There was some melting of ice. While Kapil Sibal described the meeting as a "major step forward", civil society members were less happy, saying that "two new issues of disagreement have emerged" and that key issues are yet to be resolved.

June 21: The last meeting of the committee ended with the two sides exchanging drafts while agreeing that "differences exist". Sibal said six points of differences existed between the groups. According to Prashant Bhushan, the meeting was "disappointing".