With exactly a month left to meet the mutually agreed deadline to complete the draft of a strong anti-graft Lokpal bill by June 30, the government and Anna Hazare’s team will meet for the fifth time on Monday in a bid to widen the areas of agreement to move forward.
Hazare’s team is expected to push their second set of basic principles on the powers and functioning of the much hyped Lokpal institution on Monday, which include stringent punishment including life imprisonment for high ranking officials in cases of corruption.
The civil society activists are also demanding that the minimum punishment for a government official found guilty of any act of corruption should be at least one year. “Punishment shall be higher if the status or rank of the accused is higher,” states a recommendation proposed by Hazare’s team.
This latest set of basic principles also includes provisions like empowering the Lokpal to take up the probe into graft allegations against MPs in return for asking questions or voting inside Parliament and to probe cases of money laundering in case the investigation points to an offence under the money laundering law.
Though both sides have maintained that the 10-member joint drafting panel headed by the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has made steady progress till now, but areas of disagreement have been postponed to future meetings. Hazare’s team has so far appreciated the government approach but there is a clear feeling within the civil society team that progress has been slow till now.
These new recommendations by Hazare’s team have already been proposed, even though government is yet to provide a categorical answer on whether the Lokpal would be given the powers to probe corruption allegations against the Supreme Court and high court judges.