Lokpal: agreement on many issues, new ones comes up

New Delhi: After an acrimonious meeting last week, the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill on Monday agreed on most of the issues but new areas of disagreement like the manner of selection and removal of the ombudsman came up adding to persisting differences on contentious aspects.

Both the government side and the Anna Hazare team said the three-hour-long meeting was held in a "very cordial atmosphere" but differed on the extent of its success.

The committee will meet tomorrow for the last time during which both the sides will exchange their drafts on which they will comment upon.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters that 80 to 85 per cent issues were resolved while activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan differed on this percentage but contended that there was consensus on majority of the issues.

"On a range of issues, there is a broad agreement. It is a major step forward. Both sides feel we should move towards a consensus to formulate a draft where difficult issues of divergence are spelt out when it goes to political parties sometime in July," Sibal said.

On the basis of this, a strong Lokpal Bill can be drafted and sent to Cabinet so that it can be introduced in Parliament in the Monsoon session.

"There is agreement on 80 to 85 per cent of issues…I feel this is a very major breakthrough," Sibal said.

Immediately after, Bhushan said agreement was on minor issues and differences persisted on contentious issues like bringing under Lokpal the post of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and the conduct of MPs inside Parliament.

He said "two new issues" of divergence came up. These relate to the constitution of the selection panel and procedure for removal of Lokpal.