The 10 member joint drafting committee of the lokpal bill will hold its seventh meeting on Wednesday in the capital to resolve contentious issues, including bringing the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary under the ambit of the new authority, with the aim to fast-track the drafting process ahead of the June 30 deadline for completion of the draft bill.
The meeting, originally scheduled on June 10, was postponed till Wednesday as Anna Hazare had prior engagements between June 9 and 11.
During the fifth meeting of the Committee held under the chairmanship of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, on May 30, sharp differences came to the surface with the government strongly opposing proposals for inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and acting MPs inside Parliament, under the ambit of the lokpal.
At the meeting, these contentious issues came up for discussion in the Committee for the first time, which has raised questions about the completion of the draft bill by June 30 as promised.
The panel’s civil society members had submitted their revised version of the Jan Lokpal Bill at the first meeting on April 16 which, they suggested, could be the basis of their subsequent meetings.
The government members, however, asked them first to elaborate on the principles and objects which, they felt, should be the starting point of their deliberations. The 10-member joint drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill includes finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, law minister Veerappa Moily, water resources minister Salman Khursheed, former law minister Shanti Bhushan (co-chairman), Anna Hazare, eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan, Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.
Following a 98 hour hunger strike by Hazare, the government had issued a notification to form the joint committee to prepare a draft of the lokpal bill. According to the notification, the Committee will evolve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation by June 30, so that it can be introduced and passed during the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament.
Hazare wants the lokpal bill to be passed before August 15, India's Independence Day, failing which he has threatened to start another round of sit-in protests at Red Fort, where the Prime Minister addresses the nation.