Joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill meets

New Delhi:  The joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill met here today amid hardening of stand by the government and civil society on the contentious issue of bringing under its ambit the Prime Minister, judiciary and the conduct of MPs inside Parliament.

Except for civil society member Justice Santosh Hegde, all members of the ten member committee attended the meeting at Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee`s office in North Block.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of a shrill exchange of words between both sides on contentious issues and government making it clear that it was opposed to bringing the Prime Minister under the ambit of the Lokpal.

The government is also opposed to bringing judiciary and the conduct of MPs inside Parliament. The civil society side led by Anna Hazare, however, wants these under the anti- corruption ombudsman.

"We will try to settle the issues as much as possible.

There are six issues on which we have differences of opinion," Hegde, who did not attend today`s meeting, said.

During the last meeting on June 15, government nominees had asked the civil society members to present their draft while they will present theirs as there was no forward movement. It was also decided that a draft bill will go to the Cabinet along with points of divergence.

In an indication that the Congress had hardened its stand, party chief Sonia Gandhi sent a terse letter to Hazare indicating her unhappiness with him for making his letter public and said she has already made her views "clear" on issues raised him.

Today`s deliberations could be the last meeting of the joint committee and another round will be held tomorrow only if the discussions for an anti-corruption watchdog are not concluded