Gazette notification issued on constitution of joint committee to prepare draft Lokpal Bill

Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare called off his five-day hunger strike on Saturday morning after receiving a gazette notification from the Centre on the constitution of a joint committee, comprising members from the government and civil society, for preparation of the draft Lokpal Bill.

Celebrations broke out at Jantar Mantar, venue of his fast, and also across the country with supporters rejoicing the social activist's “victory” for a stronger anti-corruption law. On the other hand, the government heaved a sigh of relief as the protest was spreading fast as more and more citizens and celebrities had been joining Mr. Hazare's movement.

After ending his fast, Mr. Hazare addressed a huge gathering of supporters and pointed out that this was just the beginning of the fight against corruption. “Our responsibility has now increased… we will ensure that the Lokpal Bill is passed before August 15 [2011],” the social activist said and urged the people to take up other crucial issues such as decentralisation of power and electoral reforms.

Though the agreement was reached on Friday night, with the government conceding the social activist's demands, he refused to break his fast until the Centre issued a government order.

However, the government went a step ahead and issued a gazette notification early in the morning. Officials of the Ministry of Law and Justice had to burn the midnight oil to prepare the draft and get it notified.

The notification said the Joint Drafting Committee would “commence its work forthwith and evolve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation.” It is supposed to complete its work the latest by June 30, 2011.

The 10-member Joint Drafting Committee will have five Cabinet members — Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee (chairman), Home Minister P. Chidamabaram, Law Minister Veerappa Moily (convener), Telecom and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid.

Apart from Mr. Hazare, civil society will be represented by the former Law Minister, Shanti Bhushan (co-chairperson), the former Supreme Court Judge, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.

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