With barely two months left for the deadline agreed upon the government and the civil society activists to finalise the draft of the anti-corruption bill by June 30, the joint drafting committee will meet on Monday to open negotiations on the much hyped legislation.
This will be the second meeting of the 10-member joint panel headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, which had decided to take forward the process of drafting a strong and effective anti-graft bill on April 16.
Though no formal agenda has been circulated for the meeting, both sides finalised their strategies on Sunday, with Mukherjee holding a preparatory meeting with his four other cabinet colleagues, who are on the panel with Anna Hazare’s team.
Top department of personnel and training (DoPT) and law ministry officials were also present at the meeting.
“We will listen to the members from the civil society who are on the committee and the government is committed to introduce the lokpal bill in the monsoon session of parliament,” said a government member of the joint drafting panel.
The civil society activists plan to initiate discussions on the statement of objectives of the proposed legislation and take forward the process of public consultations. “We hope to get the dates of five regional public consultations finalised on Monday and atleast agree on the basic points in which there is no dispute between the government and us,” said a civil society member of the panel.
The government was presented with an updated version of the draft bill prepared by Anna Hazare’s team on April 16, titled — Jan Lokpal Bill.
The draft is being consistently updated by the activists and the government is likely to wait for a finalised draft.
“It is now clear that the draft of the lokpal bill is the basis for public consultations at all forums. It is an important step forward and we would welcome suggestions to further improve our draft,” said a member of Hazare’s team in the joint panel.
The activists’ latest draft includes provisions to empower the anti-corruption ombudsman to telephone conversations and safeguards for higher judiciary on false complaints filed against the judges of Supreme Court and high courts.