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Lokpal panel agrees on legislation principles
Arvind Kejriwal said only one-fourth of the bill has been discussed.
New Delhi: A month after Anna Hazare's hunger strike on Lokpal Bill issue, representatives of the government and the civil society on Saturday agreed on basic principles of the proposed legislation on anti-corruption ombudsman like transparency in selection process and autonomy.
However, inclusion of Prime Minister and judiciary in the ambit of the Lokpal was a sticking point and the issue was flagged for broader discussion at the next meeting scheduled for May 23.
Briefing reporters after the third meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee on Lokpal Bill that was constituted on April 8, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan said there was agreement on various issues like transparency in the process of appointment of the Lokpal, the autonomy of the ombudsman and financial independence for such an office.
RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, who is a member of the 10-member drafting panel, said only one-fourth of the bill has been discussed.
"The model on which the financial independence will be based is yet to be decided. Various models were discussed, including from other countries and of institutions like the Supreme Court, Comptroller and Auditor General and the Central Vigilance Commission," he said.
There was agreement on having a broadbased selection panel for appointing the Lokpal, the discussions also covered on the need for having similar ombudsmen at the state level.
However, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said more discussions were needed on having state-level Lokpals as consultations need to be held with state governments on the issue.
Sibal said it was decided to go ahead with the drafting of the bill in areas where there was an agreement between the representatives of the civil society and the government.
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 Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and has Union Minister Sibal, Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid and P Chidambaram as members. Besides Prashant Bhushan and Kejriwal, the civil society members are Shanti
Bhushan, Anna Hazare and Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde.
Sibal said it was agreed to take up areas where there was agreement among members and issues that require debate and discussion on legal and constitutional hurdles will be discussed later.
Sibal said while there were basic principles on having an effective Lokpal, there were certain areas which have an impact on existing laws and constitutional provisions which need more discussion.
Prashant Bhushan said there was also an agreement over the provision that members of the Lokpal will not take up any government post after retirement.
"There was an agreement that the selection process of Lokpal should be broadbased and transparent. But the issue of selection committee is a matter of detail which will be decided later," he said.
He said there was an agreement that it will be a broadbased committee with constitutional authorities, judges, politicians and others as its members.
"There was also an agreement on search committee to help the selection
committee," Bhushan said.
The members of the Joint Drafting Committee also agreed that the Lokpal will not require permission from the government to either investigate or initiate prosecution against anyone.
The meeting, however, did not take up the issue of the powers the proposed Lokpal will have. The latest version of the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by the Anna Hazare-led group proposed power to tap phone calls by the ombudsman and having institutions like the CBI and CVC under its supervisory control.
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