The parliamentary panel examining the Lokpal bill has unanimously agreed to make the proposed anti-graft watchdog a part of the Constitution, but failed to arrive at a consensus on whether the Prime Minister should be brought under its purview.
The members of the standing committee on law and justice have also agreed to set up the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states through a single bill to be passed by the Parliament.
Committee chairman Abhishek Singhvi said the members have almost completed their work in a record period of three months and managed to evolve unanimity on 95% of the issues.
"The committee is pleasantly surprised with itself and is collectively in a self-congratulatory mood. Only a few issues are left, which we will resolve while finalising the report soon," Singhvi said.
The demand to provide a constitutional status to the Lokpal, first raised by the Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in August will require an amendment in the Constitution for which the government will require the support of the opposition parties.
The panel appears to have provided a solution to the government by accepting a key demand of Team Anna to set up the Lokpal and Lokayuktas through a single bill. This move could help in getting the opposition parties support to muster the required two-thirds majority in getting a constitutional amendment bill passed.
The committee has relied on a six-page opinion from the former Chief Justice of India, JS Verma on the issue.
On the inclusion of bringing the Prime Minister's post under the Lokpal's ambit, there were sharp differences with the opposition members insisting on the inclusion with some safeguards.
However, leaders of the UPA-friendly parties like Lalu Prasad, Vijay Bahadur Singh and Ram Vilas Paswan insisted that the PM should not be brought under the Lokpal.
Some Congress members supported the government's version that a case against the Prime Minister can only be investigated by Lokpal seven years after he demits office.