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Lokpal: Civil society invites govt nominees for public debate

 

As serious differences over various provisions marred forward movement in the drafting of Lokpal Bill, the civil society members in the panel have invited govt nominees for a public debate on contentious issues that could be telecast live.

 

In a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, panel co-chairman Shanti Bhushan said they were organising a national public debate on the six issues on which the government and the civil society have different opinions.

 

"The debate is likely to be telecast live by many national and regional TV channels. It would educate the people about these issues and help them in giving informed opinion," Bhushan said.

 

Barring Santosh Hegde, he said, all the other four members -- Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and himself -- from the civil society side will participate in the debate.

 

"It would be useful if the government nominees of the drafting committee could also join the debate," he said, proposing 5th June as the date for meeting.

 

However, Bhushan said if the timing was inconvenient for Mukherjee, they were ready to change it to some mutually convenient date and time.

 

"Even if all the five ministers cannot come, it would be useful if a few of them were present," he said.

 

He said if the government side agree in principle, they could mutually decide the format and other details.

 

The civil society side also proposed that former Chief Justice J S Verma could preside over the debate.

 

However, Bushan said they have not yet spoken to Verma and that they will talk to him if Mukherjee agrees with the suggestion.

 

"We had thought that the meeting could be presided over by an eminent person like former Chief Justice J S Verma (we have not spoken to him yet and will do so if you agree) or any eminent person suggested by you," he added.

 

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