The government will present its draft anti-corruption Lokpal Bill to the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, for approval this week.
There is only one draft that will go to the Cabinet. The draft prepared by the Department of Personnel and Training incorporates the provisions agreed to by the civil society group on the joint-drafting committee, chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, as also some other suggestions.
However, contrary to what the Anna Hazare-led group demanded, the differences with civil society will neither be ‘highlighted’ nor ‘incorporated’ in the draft. These would be annexed to the Bill just as several other views are.
As part of the normal procedure, the Cabinet-approved Bill would be introduced in Parliament and referred to a standing committee/ “The government is committed to bringing in a strong and effective Lokpal Bill in the monsoon session,” informed sources said.
“A different approach was tried this time by forming a joint-drafting committee but it did not result in a joint draft. So what will go to the Cabinet is the government draft,” the sources said.
On Tuesday, the civil society group demanded that its version of the Lokpal Bill be taken to the Cabinet along with the government’s draft for approval.
“It was discussed and decided at the joint drafting committee meeting that both versions of the Bill will be presented before the Cabinet. We have heard that the Cabinet is likely to meet soon to decide on the issue of Lokpal. Therefore, we would request you to present both drafts before the Cabinet, as was decided,” joint panel co-chairman Shanti Bhushan said in a letter to Mr. Mukherjee.
Speaking to The Hindu, civil society member Arvind Kejriwal said that at the eighth meeting of the panel it was agreed that the two versions would be taken to the Cabinet for its view.
However, the minutes of the ninth meeting held on June 21 quote the chairman as giving an assurance that both drafts would be submitted to the “government” for consideration before Cabinet approval is sought.
Refuting this, Mr. Kejriwal said this point was not discussed at this meeting. “What was decided in the previous day’s meeting was that both drafts will go to the Cabinet which will take a view on the contentious provisions.”
The civil society members and government representatives differed on inclusion of Prime Minister and the higher judiciary in the proposed Bill. They also did not agree on the selection process as well as merging the anti-corruption branch of the CBI into the independent institution of Lokpal. Hindu