Joint panel on Lokpal meets

New Delhi: The joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill today had its first meeting when civil society representatives presented a new draft of the legislation to the government with both sides expressing hope that the new law will be brought in Monsoon session of Parliament.

The 90-minute meeting chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and co-chaired by eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan was audio-recorded and not videographed as demanded by the civil society activists.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, one of the five ministers nominated to the committee, said after the meeting that both the sides were keen that the new Bill should be introduced in the Monsoon session, which begins early July.

The next meeting of the ten-member committee will be held on May two.

Sibal said both sides presented their perspective on the proposed legislation. The latest draft presented by the civil society representatives had "significant" proposals, he added.

The Minister said the entire meeting was audio-recorded and whenever decisions are taken they would be made public.

He said the committee would discuss the draft provided by the activists along with the draft cleared by the Standing Committee which would be circulated.

The new draft presented by the civil society is believed to have amended an earlier provision relating to the selection committee to choose Lokpal and its members.

Under the new proposal, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition have replaced Rajya Sabha Chairman and Lok Sabha Speaker as proposed in the old draft. .