Consensus in Lokpal drafting panel on independence

The Lokpal Bill drafting committee Saturday identified areas of agreement between the government and the civil society representatives on the proposed stringent anti-graft legislation.

Last Updated: May 07, 2011, 23:17 PM IST

New Delhi: The Lokpal Bill drafting committee Saturday identified areas of agreement between the government and the civil society representatives on the proposed stringent anti-graft legislation, and said the new authority should be independent and have a transparent process of appointment.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said after the meeting that it was "exceptionally constructive".

"The approach was very constructive. There were areas of broad agreement, including the process of appointment of Lokpal which should be transparent," Sibal said.

He said it had been agreed that the authority should be independent and have financial independence.

"It was a good discussion. We identified areas of agreement and areas where elaborate discussion is required," he said.

The meeting was attended by all 10 members of the panel, including five civil society representatives.

Sibal said the Lokpal should be a man of high integrity. He said the bill had tremendous implications as there were suggestions that states should emulate the proposed legislation for office of Lokayukta.

Sibal hoped that the draft legislation will be ready by June 30 and said that the next meeting will be held May 23.

Saturday`s meeting was third between the government and civil society representatives.

The committee, which has five representatives each from the government and the civil society, was formed after veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare went on a 97-hour fast at New Delhi`s Jantar Mantar last month.

Civil society members on the panel include activist Arvind Kejriwal, former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde, Hazare, former law minister Shanti Bhushan, who is the panel`s co-chairman, and his son Prashant Bhushan.

From the government`s side, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is co-chairman, while the other members are Home Minister P Chidambaram, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Sibal.

The first meeting of the joint committee was held April 16 when a modified draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill, the activists` version of the anti-graft legislation, was presented to the government.

IANS