Eight days after Gandhian Anna Hazare called off his fast demanding a stronger Lokpal law, the joint committee to draft the bill met on Saturday for the first 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 from the civil society side.
The deliberations came in the backdrop of a controversy over 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 government conceded his demand for a joint drafting committee on the legislation.
Both the sides had finetuned their strategy during separate meetings last evening.
Government said it had an open mind on the proposed legislation and hoped that discussions will pave the way for a convergence of ideas.
The activists on their part said they would want the Jan Lokpal Bill to be the base for the discussions and would press for videographing of the proceedings.
The activists' side also made it clear that they would press for bringing within 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 that the higher judiciary should not be under the ambit of Lokpal, the activists rejected his argument and decided to argue for pressing its inclusion in the legislation.
Kejriwal said only criminal misconduct by the judges is being sought to be probed under the Lokpal bill and not not professional misconduct.