Lokpal meet 'cordial' but rift persists

Lokpal meet 'cordial' but rift persists

Now, disagreement over fresh issues

Lokpal meet 'cordial' but rift persists

Both the government side and the Anna Hazare team said the three-hour-long meeting was held in a “very cordial atmosphere” but differed on the extent of its success. Emerging after the meeting, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said that a “broad consensus” on a majority of issues had been arrived at while contentious issues would be spelt out in the draft to be prepared by the joint committee.

Among the contentious issues that remained unresolved include bringing the post of prime minister, higher judiciary and the conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the ambit of the Lokpal.

“The atmosphere was non-acrimonious, it was friendly… there was a broad consensus…..I think it’s a major step forward. Both sides feel that we should move towards a consensus, and where there are significant areas of divergence and disagreements to formulate a draft in which those areas will be spelt out,” Sibal said.

Sibal further informed that when the draft of the Bill will go to the political parties in July, areas of divergence of opinion and the alternatives will be “put before political leaders and political parties” to seek their opinion. Asserting that the meeting was a major breakthrough since both the sides have agreed on “80-85 percent of the clauses of the
Bill,” Sibal said: “there will be a strong Lokpal Bill”.

However, the civil society members, who also described the meeting as “cordial” and “sober”, said disagreements and differences on several topics persisted with new issues of divergences coming up in Monday’s meeting.

“We had two new issues that were discussed. One was the appointment of the Lokpal selection committee and the other was removal of the Lokpal,” according to Prashan Bhushan.

Bhushan said: “According to government version, the appointment committee (for Lokpal) is filled with politicians and government officials. Our bill has provision for an independent, broad-based committee like the Chief Election Commissioner.”

RTI activist, Arvind Kejriwal, said, “the government version proposes that the selection committee should comprise Prime Minister, Speaker, Leaders of both Houses of Parliament, Leaders of Opposition of both Houses, Lok Sabha Speaker, Home Minister, Cabinet Secretary, a Supreme Court judge and a High Court Chief Justice.”