The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee held its meeting on Thursday, to set up a search panel for recommending names for the appointment of the anti-graft ombudsman Lokpal and its members, officials said.
It was attended by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and former attorney general and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, they said.
However, Congress nominee Mallikarjun Kharge, who is a ‘special invitee’ to the selection committee, did not attend it.
The meeting was held for an hour and matters related to the constitution of the search committee was discussed, the officials said, without citing specific details.
In a letter to the prime minister, Kharge said he will not attend the meeting for appointment of Lokpal till the time the leader of the single largest opposition party is made a full-fledged member of the panel.
Kharge had on earlier occasions, too, boycotted meetings of the panel on the same ground. In his letter, he referred to previous communications in this regard, saying these have remained unacknowledged and unaddressed.
“Under these circumstances, I must once again respectfully inform that I would not be able to attend the meeting of the selection committee until the leader of the single largest opposition party is conferred the status of a full-fledged member as envisioned in the Lokpal Act 2013,” he said.
“It has been four years since your government came to power and if the government was indeed sincere about including the voice of the Opposition in this process, it could have brought the necessary amendment to ensure the same,” said Kharge, who is leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
The selection panel had earlier held meetings on April 10 and March 1. Kharge had boycotted these meetings, the officials said.
Kharge had earlier urged the government to amend the Lokpal Act to include the leader of the single largest opposition party in the selection committee and bring an ordinance in this regard.
As per the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, only the leader of the opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha is a member of the selection committee and since, Kharge does not have that status, he is not a part of the panel.
A party should have at least 55 seats or 10 per cent of the strength of the Lok Sabha for its leader to get the LoP status.