India

Govt Holds Strategy Session to Discuss Line of 5 Ministers in Lokpal Bill Panel

BeyondHeadlines News Desk

New Delhi: The government held a strategy session to discuss the line the five ministers in the 10-member Lokpal Bill drafting  panel should take.

Chairman of the committee Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met government representatives to firm up the Centre’s stand on the latest draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill, sources said.

The latest version, among other things, envisages a provision empowering the office of the Lokpal to intercept telephone conversations.

Further, the sources said, the government may ask political parties and even representatives of other non-governmental organisations to provide their inputs on the draft legislation.

The drafting committee, which has five representatives of the civil society, including social activist Anna Hazare, held its first meeting on April 16.

The second meeting assumes significance as it comes in the backdrop of sharp publically-aired differences between some non-official members of the drafting committee and leading figures of the people’s movement on the final contours of the proposed Bill, particularly on the issue of inclusion of the PM and the higher judiciary.

As reported by The Indian Express, sources in the government said it too shared the views of two former chief justices of India — M N Venkatachaliah (retd) and J S Verma (retd) — that the higher judiciary should remain outside the purview of the proposed Lokpal.

On the PM, the government is expected to go with the opinion of the committee.

Incidentally, jurists and some members of the civil society at a recent roundtable organised to discuss the proposed legislation opposed the demand to include the PM in the Bill.

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