Lokpal Bill: Civil members to ask for speedy drafting

New Delhi: Civil society members are expected to make a strong pitch for speeding up the process to draft the Lokpal Bill when they meet the representatives of the government on Monday.

The fourth meeting of the team led by Anna Hazare is expected to ask the ministerial team led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to call at least three meetings every week to complete the drafting process by the June 30 deadline set in the gazette notification issued by the government.

At the third meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee on Lokpal Bill, there was a general agreement on seven of the 34 points submitted by the civil society members.

There was agreement on empowering the Lokpal to initiate a suo motu probe into the allegations of corruption against ministers, MPs and senior bureaucrats.

Currently, a minister can be prosecuted only after sanction from the Prime Minister. Lok Sabha Speaker or Rajya Sabha Chairman has to give the nod in case of action against MPs.

Former Union minister Shanti Bhushan, a member of Hazare`s team and co-chair of the Committee, in a letter to Mukherjee last week had suggested that government first present its views on all the remaining points and possible solutions on issues on which there were divergent views.

Inclusion of Prime Minister and judiciary in the ambit of the Lokpal was a sticking point in the previous meeting and the issue was flagged for broader discussion at the tomorrow`s meeting.

The setting up of the panel was a key demand of Hazare and his supporters as part of their agitation for strong measures to tackle corruption in government and public life.

The Committee is chaired by Mukherjee and has Union ministers Sibal, Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid and P Chidambaram as members. Besides Shanti Bhushan, the civil society members are Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan, Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal.