Lokpal selection committee to meet on July 19 to set up search panel: Govt to apex court

PTI New Delhi | Updated on July 17, 2018 Published on July 17, 2018

The Centre today told the Supreme Court that the Lokpal selection committee has convened a meeting on July 19 for the purpose of constituting a search panel to look for the anti-graft ombudsman.

The government told a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, R Banumathi and Navin Sinha that the search committee would have to recommend a panel of names for appointing the Lokpal.

The bench fixed the matter for further hearing on July 24, saying since the selection committee was scheduled to meet on July 19, it would not pass any direction now. The committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the largest Opposition party and an eminent jurist.

The court was hearing a contempt petition, filed by senior advocate Shanti Bhushan on behalf of NGO Common Cause, raising the issue of non-appointment of Lokpal despite the apex court’s judgement of April 27 last year. Bhushan said even after four-and-a-half years, the anti-graft ombudsman has not been appointed.

The top court had on July 2 directed the Centre to apprise it about the timeframe for the steps to be taken to appoint the Lokpal. On May 15, the Centre had told the apex court that senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi has been appointed as an eminent jurist in the selection committee for appointment of the Lokpal. Rohatgi was appointed the Attorney-General of India on June 19, 2014, soon after the Narendra Modi government assumed power in May. He quit the post in June last year.

The post of eminent jurist in the Lokpal selection panel had been lying vacant since the death of senior advocate P. P. Rao on September 11 last year. The apex court, in last year’s verdict, had said there was no justification to keep the enforcement of the Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments, including on the issue of the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, were cleared by Parliament.

It had said the Act was an eminently workable piece of legislation and “does not create any bar to the enforcement of provisions”. The top court had also said the amendments proposed to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and the views of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, were attempts to streamline the working of the Act and did not constitute legal hindrances or bar its enforcement.

Published on July 17, 2018
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