Lokpal Bill Panel to Consult States, Parties on 'Divergent Views'

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS): The joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee Monday decided to seek the views of states and political parties on "issues of divergence" on the proposed legislation as the government and civil society representatives had differing views on key issues, including bringing the prime minister and the higher judiciary under the ambit of the new authority.

After a three-hour meeting of the 10-member drafting committee, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said both sides "were constructively looking as issues of divergence".

He said the meeting had decided to write to political parties and state governments "as to what their views are" on some of the contentious issues.

Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, two the civil society representatives on the panel, however, expressed disappointment over the government's response at Monday's meeting.

"In the discussions, unfortunately, we found the response of the government not very reasonable... We are a bit disappointed," Bhushan said.

He said the two sides had differing views on bringing the prime minister and the higher judiciary in the ambit of Lokpal and some other issues.

The government wants the "prime minister and higher judiciary out for different reasons", he said.

Bhushan said the government also did not want actions of MPs in parliament to be brought under Lokpal Bill and wanted the proposed authority to cover only officers of rank of joint secretary and above.

He expressed apprehension that the committee may not be able to finish its work of drafting the bill by June 30.

Sibal said next meetings of the panel will be held June 6 and June 10, and stressed the government wants a strong and effective Lokpal Bill.


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Title: Lokpal Bill Panel to Consult States, Parties on 'Divergent Views'

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