New Delhi: The post of Prime Minister may be brought under the purview of Lokpal with certain riders like holding the enquiry only after the person demits office, notwithstanding the intense face-off between the government and Anna Hazare team.

The possibility of such a formulation making its way to the draft bill became stronger when the government nominees in the joint drafting committee discussed this aspect among themselves at a recent meeting.

Sources said that at the sixth meeting of the committee, which was boycotted by the Hazare team, the Ministers discussed various formulations of bringing the post of Prime Minister under Lokpal in case of allegations.

It was felt that till anybody holds the post of Prime Minister there should be no inquiry. But as soon as he demits office, he could be open for scrutiny.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherje was quoted as saying that so long as the Prime Minister holds the office, any inquiry should be suspended and the Lokpal may keep the matter of inquiry with himself.

The government and Anna Hazare team are at loggerheads over this issue. Government feels that this would make the Prime Minister "dysfunctional" as there would be a flood of complaints against him. However, the civil society questioned the logic behind such a stand.

The new formulation is in tune with the suggestion made by Constitution Review Commission set up during NDA government and the Administrative Reforms Commission.

Three of the seven times the bill was introduced in Parliament; it had provisions to bring the Prime Minister under the ambit of Lokpal.

Lokpal panel to meet amidst differences

As the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill winds up discussions on Tuesday, "serious differences" persisted between the government and civil society on Monday and fresh discord broke out over appointment and removal of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Both the sides will exchange their drafts version of the bill which will be merged into one document with differences listed for a final decision to be taken by the Union Cabinet, spokespersons for both the camps said.

While HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, one of the official representatives on the committee, claimed that there was 80 to 85 percent agreement between the two sides and that there was a "major breakthrough" and forward movement, the civil society side made light of the government claim.

Sibal acknowledged that there was "strong divergence" of opinions but both the camps said the discussions were held in a "very cordial atmosphere".

The differences between the two sides remain on inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of the Bill as also the higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside the House, funding model, CBI under Lokpal and Lokayuktas in state.

At Monday's meeting, an addition was made to this list when the two sides disagreed over who will constitute the panel to select Lokpal and who can approach the Supreme Court for removal.

PM convenes UPA meet on Lokpal

A meeting of UPA leaders is being held on Tuesday as part of efforts to ascertain views of the alliance partners over the drafting of the Lokpal Bill.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened the meeting apparently to consult the constituents of the ruling alliance over ticklish issues such as bringing the post of the PM under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog.

There has been divergence of views among UPA allies on the issue. While Congress and NCP have expressed opposition, DMK is reported to be favouring it.

The government has already given hints that it would convene an all-party meeting in July to discuss the inclusion of the post of the Prime Minister under the Lokpal's purview.

The all-party meeting would be held after the joint drafting committee completes the process of drafting the Lokpal Bill by June 30.

(JPN/Agencies)