Hazare team boycotts Lokpal meet, ministers meet

New Delhi: Trouble in the Lokpal Bill drafting committee escalated on Monday with civil society members boycotting its meeting citing "suspicious intent" of the government which hit back, saying the Anna Hazare`s team was raising "extraneous" issues.

A tough-talking government asserted that the committee would continue its work to draft a strong Lokpal and finish it by June 30 for introduction in Monsoon Session of Parliament "whether or not someone" comes for the meetings.

The two sides were engaged in war of words as a result of which five civil society members in the committee boycotted the meeting which was attended only by the five ministers representing the government, raising questions over the joint panel.

The trigger to the latest trouble was the police action to disrupt Ramdev`s protest at Ramlila Maidan with Hazare, saying it reflected government`s "suspicious intent" and "fraud" with regard to fighting corruption.

Hours before the meeting, joint committee co-chairman Shanti Bhushan also alleged that government practically wants to leave everyone out of Lokpal`s ambit–Prime Minister, horse trading of MPs, middle and lower bureaucracy judiciary.

Hitting back, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, who is also a member of the committee, said, "many issues they raise are very extraneous and have nothing to do with the proceedings of the committee."

He particularly referred to Hazare raising to the issue of Ramlila Maidan incident and questioned how it was linked with drafting of the bill.

Sibal said following a letter by committee chairman Pranab Mukherjee, political parties and chief ministers have sent their views on the proposed Bill.

Quoting a letter by BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, Sibal said the main opposition party was of the view that supremacy of the Constitution should be maintained and institutions which represent the democratic system of the country cannot be undermined.

He said according to Gadkari, laws have to be made by Parliament and the joint drafting committee cannot have precedence over elected representatives.

On the response of Bahujan Samaj Party, he said the Mayawati-led party believes that taking views of political parties are not in consistence with the established parliamentary system.

It is learnt that several states have echoed similar views.

To a question on the inclusion of Prime Minister in a 2010 draft of Lokpal Bill, Sibal said the document was not a draft but a proposal by the Law Ministry for inter-ministerial discussions.