As the cabinet meets today to consider the lokpal bill, a key difference remains between the government and the civil team led by activist Anna Hazare over the inclusion of the Central Bureau of Investigation under the anti-corruption watchdog, and over the appointment of the CBI chief.
While the bill is virtually certain to be introduced in this session of Parliament, exactly when this will be done remains uncertain. Some observers feel the government will try to push it through by Thursday or Friday; others feel it will have no option but to reconvene the houses for a few days after the Christmas break.
Parliamentary affairs minister P K Bansal has informed the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party about the government's intention to extend the session. Both parties have also issued whips to their members to be present in parliament till 22 December, when the session is officially scheduled to be prorogued.
An extension might be required as the draft bill has over 60 amendments and more could come from opposition members when the legislation is debated in parliament.
On Monday, the government cited a Supreme Court judgment to say the CBI's investigations should remain autonomous. It argued that nobody should interfere in the CBI's investigation or dictate the probe and that the 60-year-old institution could not be 'killed' by separating its anti- corruption wing for the sake of the lokpal.
"We should respect the Vineet Narain judgment of the Supreme Court which ensured the CBI's autonomy. We are working towards preserving that autonomy for the CBI. If someone feels that the CBI is not autonomous, he or she can approach the Supreme Court," law minister Salman Khurshid said after a two-hour meeting attended by home minister P Chidambaram, telecom minister Kapil Sibal and minister of state for personnel, V Narayanswamy.