New Delhi: Eight days after Gandhian Anna Hazare called off his fast demanding Jan Lokpal Bill, the joint committee to draft the bill met here on Saturday for the first time.

The meeting chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was held at North Block and attended by the ministers including Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, Union Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily, Union Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. The Civil society was represented by Anna 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 allegedly has conversations of senior Bhushan, a former Law Minister, and politicians Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh. Bhushan has termed the CD as ‘clearly fabricated’.

Both the sides had fine-tuned their strategy during separate meetings on Friday evening.

Government said it had an open mind on the proposed legislation and hoped that discussions will pave the way for a convergence of ideas. The activists on their part said they would want the Jan Lokpal Bill to be the base for the discussions and would press for videographing of the proceedings.

The activists' side also made it clear that they would press for bringing within Lokpal's ambit Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and bureaucrats. They, however, added that the government's objections were negotiable.

Though Hazare was of the view that the higher judiciary should not be under the ambit of Lokpal, the activists decided to argue for pressing its inclusion in the legislation.

Kejriwal said only criminal misconduct by the judges is being sought to be probed under the Lokpal bill and not the professional misconduct.

(Agencies)