Lokpal Bill meets with hurdles

The Joint Drafting Committee on the Lokpal Bill on Monday for the first time got bogged down by contentious issues, with the UPA government opposing scrutiny of the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary and acts of MPs inside Parliament by the Lokpal and, as a way out, embarking on wider consultations.

Both Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, who briefed the media on behalf of the government, and representatives of civil society Arvind Kejriwal and advocate Prashant Bhushan separately said the next meetings on June 6 and 10 would be an attempt at resolving these issues after eliciting the opinion of the States, political parties and the general public.

Both sides admitted divergence of opinion on four of the five contentious issues discussed at the fifth meeting of the committee and the expression of the two sides on the deliberations was equally at variance.

Anna Hazare, whose indefinite fast forced constitution of the JDC on the Lokpal Bill, was apprehensive of the government meeting the deadline of formulating the Bill by June-end and regretted the slow approach of the government.

Refusing to divulge details of the discussions, Mr. Sibal said the issues centred on Parliament, the judiciary and the public service commission, and the opinions were divergent. It was regarded necessary to elicit the opinion of the States and political parties before seeking to resolve them at the next two meetings of the JDC.



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