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Saturday, April 16, 2011

First Lokpal panel meet begins in Delhi

The joint drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill met for the first time in New Delhi today (16-Apr-2011), exactly a week after social activist Anna Hazare ended his four-day hunger strike after the government gave in to most of his demands. The meeting took place in the shadow of a CD controversy allegedly involving Shanti Bhushan.

The meeting chaired by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was held at North Block and attended by ministers P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, M. Veerappa Moily and Salman Khurshid and Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan from the civil society side.

The deliberations came in the backdrop of a controversy over a CD in circulation which purpotedly has conversations with senior Bhushan, a former law minister, and politicians Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh. Bhushan has termed the CD as "clearly fabricated".

Even before the first meeting, the father-son duo of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan who are among the civil society representatives had to fend off allegations. Prashant Bhushan also refuted allegations by Congress leader Digvijay Singh that he and his father had evaded stamp duty for a property in Allahabad.

"The fact that a person (Digvijay Singh) has raised this issue shows that there is a very organised and concerted attempt to smear members of civil society in the drafting committee with allegations like this," he said.

After the meeting, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said the drafting committee will now meet on May 2. The Congress leader said, "Its a historic event, the atmosphere in which discussions took place was conducive."

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