Lokpal panel agrees to hasten bill drafting
New Delhi: The negotiations on a draft
Lokpal Bill on Monday gained momentum with Government and civil
society members agreeing on a number of basic principles of
the proposed law and deciding to meet more often.
Emerging from a three-hour meeting, Union Minister Kapil
Sibal expressed confidence draft Lokpal Bill would be ready by
June 30, as announced in a government notification, in time
for introduction in the Monsoon session of Parliament.
The meeting chaired by Finance Minister Mukherjee took
place in the backdrop of co-chairman Shanti Bhushan raising
the issue of slow progress on drafting the bill and expressing
doubts whether the June 30 deadline would be met.
He said that there was consensus on almost half of the 40
points brought to the table by the Anna Hazare's five-member
team and the discussion on the same would continue when the
Joint Drafting Committee meets again on May 30.
Bringing the higher judiciary and the Prime Minister
within the ambit of the Lokpal were still sticking points and
discussion on the same is expected to be taken up at the next
Hazare's team today presented a set of suggestions from
some other civil society groups on the Lokpal Bill which also
included recommendations of the public hearings on the issue
held at various places across the country.
Sibal said that suggestions from other civil activists on
the bill were welcome.
He said there was complete agreement on the issue of the
authority of Lokpal being independent without any interference
from the government.
Sibal said the Committee also decided to meet more
frequently -- at least once a week, with more meetings if
The minister said that there was also an agreement in the
meeting that the Lokpal will have power to look into any
matter of corruption against public servants.
With agreement on nearly 50 per cent of the basic
principles, the Committee decided to direct the Legislative
Department to begin drafting the Lokpal Bill.
Prominent lawyer Prashant Bhushan said there was
agreement on many issues raised by the civil society members
and on some other issues the government had conveyed its
"in-principle" acceptance but wanted more discussions on finer
He said though the basic principles of the powers of
Lokpal bill were "non-negotiable", the civil society members
were "open for discussion" on details details of the Bill.
"The basic idea is to have an empowered Lokpal, which
will have full autonomy, independence from the government and
which will have powers to investigate complaints of
corruption, prosecute all public servants. This principle is
non-negotiable," he said.
"But so far as the details of the bill are concerned,
most of it is certainly available for discussions and any
amendments are open for discussion," Bhushan said.
Kejriwal said that the government has "so far not
rejected" any principle. It has agreed to some principles
totally, to some partially and said more discussions are
needed on some of them, he said.