First meeting of Lok Pal Bill drafting panel on Saturday

The first meeting of the newly-constituted joint committee comprising ministers and civil society activists to draft the Lokpal Bill will be held on Saturday.

To be held on April 16, the meeting will be chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is the chairman of the committee formed by the government to draft the bill following an agitation launched by social activist Anna Hazare, sources in the government said.

Besides Mukherjee, members of the committee are Home Minister P Chidamabaram, Law Minister Veerappa Moily (Convenor), HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid.

The civil society will be represented by Hazare, former Supreme Court judge N Santosh Hegde, former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan (Co-Chairperson), lawyer Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.

Following a 98-hour hunger strike by Hazare, the government had issued a notification to form the joint committee to prepare a draft of the Lok Pal Bill.

According to the notification, the Committee will evolve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation by June 30.

Government had yesterday said it was "anxious" for an early passage of the proposed legislation and the Independence Day deadline set by Hazare to pass the bill could be met only if "all cooperate".

"It is upto the political parties. If all of them agree for its introduction and passage, we welcome such a move...government is anxious for its early passage," Moily had said.

The civil society led by Hazare had rejected the Lok Pal Bill proposed by the Government dubbing it as "toothless" and came out with its own version of Jan Lok Pal Bill.

It had demanded that its version of the legislation should be the basis of a stronger Lok Pal Bill to deal with corruption in high places and cover politicans, civil servants and judiciary.

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