Camaraderie to the fore

At the beginning of the 90-mi­nute session, the five memb­ers of civil society handed over their list of assets and liabilities to Mukherjee, a member told Deccan Herald.

Mukherjee, in his opening remarks, underscored the imp­o­rtance of the Lokpal Bill and said the government was serious about it. “We are determ­i­ned to have a strong Lokpal but within the parameters of the Constitution,” he said.

The issue of videographing was the first proposal discussed wherein the government side said it could prove counterproductive as the members may not air their views openly.

Mu­kherjee pointed out that during the parliamentary committees’ meetings, the members speak without any party affiliation but in Parliament, where the proceedings are telecast, they toe party lines. Hence, it was unilaterally agreed that there will be only audio recording.

Co-chairman Shanti Bhu­shan made a brief intervention saying civil society was keen to have a strong Lokpal and referred to international practices and treaties against corruption.

Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, a member of the committee, briefed the team on the need for a strong Lokpal and called for wide discussion, including a public debate on the issue.

Senior advocate and former law minister Shanti Bhushan said civil society wants the “Jan Lokpal Bill” — the alternative Bill — to be the basis for the ombudsman.

While the civil society side hankered for the Jan Lokpal as the basis, it was pointed out th­at several organisations and individuals had sent their proposals on the different aspects of Lokpal to the government.

The government side will co­m­pile all the proposals and se­nd it to the five non-governm­ent members who will prepare their response and send back to the government before the next meeting scheduled for May 2.

Public meetings

The suggestion for holding public meetings with participation from members of civil society and committee memb­ers from both government and social groups was rejected taki­ng into account the deadline for the completion of the bill wo­rk. Mukherjee proposed that from the next meeting onwards, the members should meet for two to three days at a stretch and work for five to six hours.

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