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PM may be brought under Lokpal ambit

New Delhi: The post of Prime Minister may be brought under the purview of Lokpal with certain riders like holding the enquiry only after the person demits office, notwithstanding the intense face-off between the government and Anna Hazare team.

In the meantime, a meeting of UPA leaders will be held on Tuesday as part of efforts to ascertain views of the alliance partners over the drafting of the Lokpal Bill.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened the meeting apparently to consult the constituents of the ruling alliance over ticklish issues such as bringing the post of the PM under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog.

The possibility of such a formulation making its way to the draft bill became stronger when the government nominees in the joint drafting committee discussed this aspect among themselves at a recent meeting.

Sources said that at the sixth meeting of the committee, which was boycotted by the Hazare team, the ministers discussed various formulations of bringing the post of Prime Minister under Lokpal in case of allegations.

It was felt that till anybody holds the post of Prime Minister there should be no inquiry. But as soon as he demits office, he could be open for scrutiny.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was quoted as saying that so long as the Prime Minister holds the office, any inquiry should be suspended and the Lokpal may keep the matter of inquiry with himself.

The government and Anna Hazare team are at loggerheads over this issue. Government feels this would make the Prime Minister "dysfunctional" as there would be a flood of complaints against him. However, the civil society questioned the logic behind such a stand.

The new formulation is in tune with that of the suggestion made by Constitution Review Commission, set up during NDA government, and the Administrative Reforms Commission.

Three of the seven times the bill was introduced in Parliament, it had provisions to bring the Prime Minister under the ambit of Lokpal.

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