The talks between the government and civil society activists broke down on Wednesday evening without any agreement on the shape of the Lokpal Bill. The government leadership, which made it plain that the Centre cannot go along with the template prepared by the activists, however, promised to put up two drafts on the transparency bill before the Cabinet by June 30. “There was no consensus on the main issues . There is no agreement on the kind of Lokpal and the structure they (five civil society members) want. We have decided that they will give us a new version of the Bill in the next meeting on June 20. We will discuss this.
If there is still no consensus we will put two drafts of the Bill before the Cabinet. It is not that we are rejecting their version. Where there is consensus , we will put up one draft and where there is no consensus both the versions will be put before the Cabinet,” telecom minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after the two-and-a-half-hour long meeting of the joint drafting committee. The minister said that if the committee was unable to finish its deliberations on June 20, it would continue the meeting on June 21. “These two meetings would wrap up the discussion process and a Bill would be brought before the Cabinet by June 30,” Sibal said. Though the panel did not discuss the contentious issues of inclusion of prime minister and judiciary in the ambit of Lokpal Bill , there was no agreement on the basic structure and jurisdiction of the Lokpal.
The civil society has envisaged Lokpal as an 11-member body which sits in benches, similar to Central Information Commission (CIC). It would have a set number of lower and middle-rung officers with powers to decide corruption cases. However, the government rejected this and said that it would vest all the powers in an 11-member body. This decision of the central government sparked a predictable backlash from the civil society activists. That they were back on a collision course with the government was clear when Anna Hazare’s camp said that the government had already made up its mind and was trying to kill the institution of Lokpal even before it was born.