The meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee of the Lokpal Bill, scheduled to be held later on Tuesday, is expected to be a decisive one. But the representatives of civil society don't have any high hopes from this meeting.
Justice Santosh Hegde, one of the members of the panel, told rediff.com, "I get the feeling that the government will come around on the issue of including the prime minister's office under the aegis of the Lokpal Bill, but will scuttle all the other important issues".
Reportage: Vicky Nanjappa
'PM can be probed only after he demits office'
"At Monday's meeting, the PM issue did come up. But the government had pointed out that the PM can be probed only after he demits office. Former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao was investigated for the Jhrakhand Mukti Morcha bribery case only after he demitted office. If the government expects us to agree to this clause then it would be nothing but a mockery," said the anti-corruption official.
"The government may agree to include the PMO under the Lokpal's ambit but they will leave out rest of the important issues that have to find a mention in the final bill. The disagreements between the civil activists and the Centre's representatives are not only about this one issue. There is bound to be friction due on other issues. Then the government will claim that they gave us what we asked for but we have continued to make a fuss, portraying all of us as cribbers," he said.
'Some of these issues are crucial'
"I am not expecting much from this meeting to be held today. There are still a lot of issues on which the two parties disagree. Some of these issues are really crucial for the bill," he said.
Pointing out a major loophole in the Centre's argument, he said, "For example, on the issue of the appointment of the Lokpal, the government wants a lot of politicians and bureaucrats to have the power to do so. Barring the inclusion of two judges, the rest of the members will be political figures. So those appointing the Lokpal will be able to control the post".
'This is just a farce'
"The other contentious issue is the recommendation to remove a person from his post over charges of corruption. The government says that only it can make these recommendations. This is just a farce," feels Hegde
"If the Lokpal is favourable to the government, then it will defeat the cause entirely. A citizen can seek the impeachment of a judge provided he has the support. Why can't he be granted the same right for a Lokpal too," he questioned.
'Why does the govt want another anti-corruption body'
"The issue of having another anti-corruption body is another point of disagreement. The government has made it clear that the anti-corruption wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation shall not be used by the Lokpal," he said.
Hegde added, "Why is the government contemplating more than one anti-corruption body in the country? What happens to the CBI wing if a similar force is put in place? Obviously, the CBI wing becomes defunct. The government should realise that it will be a while before it can set up a new wing and train personnel to handle this case. We feel that the CBI wing should be included in the Lokpal".