Differences over Lokpal Bill persist

New Delhi: The government and the civil society were on Wednesday deadlocked on the Lokpal Bill, prompting them to agree that a note would be sent to the Cabinet by June 30 carrying versions of both the sides.

At the two-and-a-half hour meeting of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, differences persisted between the two sides on the proposed ombudsman, particularly its structure and modalities.

The Anna Hazare-led civil society members suggested that Lokpal should be empowered to probe corruption cases against officials doing away with the practice of conducting departmental probe along with a CBI enquiry. However, the government members rejected.

The other issue which was discussed in Wednesday’s meeting was the structure of Lokpal. While the civil society proposed an 11-member independent anti-corruption watchdog with subordinates having powers, the government side differed arguing that only 11 members be empowered to take decisions.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said the committee will again meet on June 20 and 21 in an attempt to bridge differences.

“It is clear there are areas where there are strong divergence of opinion…Hopefully the civil society members will give us a draft on issues of divergence. We ourselves will prepare a draft on the issues on which we think there are divergence and we will try and arrive at a consensus.

“If no consensus is arrived, then we will forward a draft bill with both versions so that the Cabinet can take a view,” he said. The process will be completed by June 30.

Claiming that nothing could be achieved from Wednesday’s meeting, activist Arvind Kejriwal said, “the government is trying to kill the Lokpal even before it is born.”