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Lokpal panel meets for last time, differences remain

New Delhi: The joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill on Tuesday met here for the last time amid "fresh and serious" differences between the government and Anna Hazare team.

The ninth and final meeting was held at the office of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, chairman of the drafting committee. Except for Home Minister P Chidambaram, who is in Jammu and Kashmir, all the other nine members attended the meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, the activists said they will hand over their draft to the committee as per the decision taken in yesterday`s meeting to exchange versions of both sides for further consultations.

Both the versions will be merged into one document with differences listed for a final decision to be taken by the Union Cabinet after political parties give their views on the issue.

Fresh differences were added to the already existing list of six over the constitution of selection panel and who can approach the Supreme Court for removal at the meeting yesterday.

The differences between the two sides remain on inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of the Bill as also the higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside the House, funding model, CBI under Lokpal and Lokayuktas in state.

"We have differences over six issues earlier. Now two more added to the list," said activist Arvind Kejriwal. Both the camps had termed yesterday`s meeting as "very cordial" but added differences remained on contentious issues.

Asked about the previous meetings of the Lokpal drafting committee, he said they had a feeling that the decisions of the government side were "pre-decided". However, he said the silver lining was that they were able to hold a country-wide discussion about Lokpal.

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