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Updated: June 19, 2011 17:24 IST

Lokpal: Govt., civil society members to meet on Monday

PTI
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The Government representatives (top) and the civil society members (bottom) of the Lokpal panel will meet on Monday in a last ditch effort to iron out their differences on the Bill. File Photos
The Hindu The Government representatives (top) and the civil society members (bottom) of the Lokpal panel will meet on Monday in a last ditch effort to iron out their differences on the Bill. File Photos

Amid war of words between the representatives of government and civil society, the two sides will meet on Monday in a last ditch effort to iron out their differences on the Lokpal Bill.

While the government has virtually ruled out bringing the post of the prime minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog, Congress core group has favoured convening an all-party meeting on the issue of inclusion of the PM.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, a member of the Joint Drafting Committee, said the view within the government is that prime minister should not be included within the ambit of Lokpal.

He, however, said once the PM demits office, he should not be “exonerated” from prosecution.

A final view on the ticklish issue will be taken by the Union Cabinet once the draft bill reaches it after consultation with political parties, he said.

A government representative of the Committee said the inclusion of judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament in the proposed legislation was “not possible” as it would amount to amending the Constitution.

“The Committee’s mandate is clear and that is to enact a legislation. The members led by Anna Hazare are also clear about the mandate...it is in the notification,” he said.

But the member insisted that the government side will try its best to convince the civil society members about its “stand and compulsions”.

However, the Anna Hazare team dubbed the argument to keep the prime minister out of Lokpal’s ambit as “absurd”.

“There is no reason whatsoever to exclude the prime minister. Whatever arguments are being given seem to suggest that if the prime minister was subject to anti-corruption investigation then he would become dysfunctional,” lawyer Prashant Bhushan said here.

He said the argument was “absurd” as the prime minister can be investigated by the CBI, which is under his control, but not an independent agency like Lokpal.

If the two sides fail to settle their differences, a draft bill with points of agreements and disagreements will be prepared.

The government and civil society are on loggerheads on the issues of inclusion of prime minister, judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament.

Meanwhile, Justice Santosh Hegde will not be attending the crucial meeting citing prior commitments. Monday’s meeting could also spill over to Tuesday if both sides fail to make headway.

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