First Lokpal meeting 'extremely cordial'
New Delhi: The first meeting of the joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill was "extremely cordial" on Saturday, with the government agreeing to audio-record discussions and hold public consultations on the anti-graft law.
The panel, which includes five representatives each from civil society and the government, is to meet next on May 2, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said.
"It has been an extremely historic event because we believe that the atmosphere in which discussions took place was extremely cordial and we hope to arrive at a consensus and through the consensus a very strong Lokpal Bill will come which will purge corruption," Sibal, a member, told reporters.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is chairperson of the panel, while former law minister Shanti Bhushan is co-chair.
The panel was formed last week following a 97-hour-long fast held by social crusader Anna Hazare for a stringent anti-corruption law. It also has lawyer Prashant Bhushan as a member.
"Our meetings started at 11.30am. It was an amiable meeting in which all the representatives and the government made some valuable contributions.
"Prashant Bhushan circulated the Jan Lokpal Bill and Shanti Bhushan explained the salient features of the Jan Lokpal Bill. We also consulted on the procedures to be adopted in the coming weeks," he said.
Sibal said a suggestion was made that the proceedings should be video-graphed and a discussion was held on it.
"There is an audio-recording of the proceedings and we have decided together to share whatever happened with the public from time to time," he said.
The union minister said that advocate Prashant Bhushan, also a member of the panel, suggested and there was consensus in the group, that there should be public consultations in the process so that the views of common people were also considered by the committee.