Tarique Anwar, BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: The 10-member recently constituted joint committee comprising government and civil society representatives for drafting the anti-graft Lokpal Bill met today in the national capital exactly eight days after the hunger strike committee of Anna Hazare called off. The first meeting of the committee held amid a CD controversy allegedly involving panel co-chairman Shanti Bhushan.
Kapil Sibal, one of the members, said the meeting was audio-recorded.
The government seems to have come half way to meet a key bowed to the demands of the civil society. Government sources said the draft presented by the civil society is more practical. It has now removed the reference to suspension of cabinet ministers and judges. It also does not mention the Lokpal having appointing and disciplinary authorities.
This was one of the demands of the civil society representatives. Sibal said all the issues were discussed and the bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament.
Chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the meeting was held at North Block and attended by Ministers P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, M Veerappa Moily and Salman Khurshid and Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan from the civil society side.
Santosh Hedge also said the meeting was fruitful and that the next meeting of the panel will be May 2. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan chaired the meet.
Union Minister for Telecommunication Kapil Sibal said, “It’s a historic event, the atmosphere in which discussions took place was conducive.”
The deliberations came in the backdrop of a controversy over a CD in circulation which purportedly has conversations with senior Bhushan, a former Law Minister, and politicians Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh. Bhushan has termed the CD as “clearly fabricated.”
The CD has audio clippings of a phone conversation allegedly between Shanti Bhushan, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh about influencing a judge. Amar Singh reacted to the allegation saying that the CD was fabricated. An FIR has been filed by the Bhushans questioning its authenticity.
Law Minsiter Veerappa Moily, who is also a panel member, has promised that the bill will be prepared by June 30 and be presented in Parliament in the monsoon session. This meeting comes amid corruption charges against co-chairman of the Lokpal Committee Shanti Bhushan.
Hazare had on Saturday last called off his fast-unto-death agitation after government conceded his demand for a Joint Drafting Committee on the legislation.