The government is moving to amend Lokpal Act and the law governing the functioning of CBI to ensure that there is no requirement of “quorum” in the respective selection panels for choosing the anti-corruption ombudsman or the CBI chief.
The Law Ministry has finalised a proposal of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to amend the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act and the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act to insert a clause.
The new clause will make it clear that the proceedings of the respective selection committees are not held as “invalid” due to a lack of quorum, sources said on Tuesday.
At present, the two laws are silent on the quorum but the government thought it appropriate to amend the Acts to ensure that the decisions of the two respective selection panels are not challenged in a court of law as being invalid due to lack of quorum.
Besides putting a clause on the quorum, the government is also amending the DSPE Act to make way for the Leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha as a member of the selection committee in the absence of a recognised Leader of the Opposition in the lower house.
“It may happen that one of the members is not available to attend the meeting. The clause is being inserted so that things do not have to wait due to lack of availability of a member. Moreover, proceedings of a meeting without the full composition should be held as invalid,” explained a senior government functionary.
The Lokpal selection committee to choose Lokpal chairman and its members is led by the Prime Minister and has as its members the Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.
Section 4 (2) of the Act makes it clear that no appointment of a chairperson or member shall be invalid merely by reason of vacancy in selection committee but is silent on absence of a member at the time of the meeting.
Section 4A of the DSPE Act was amended by the Lokpal Act to change the composition of the selection committee to appoint the CBI chief.
The new selection panel is headed by the Prime Minister with the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha as its members.
However, even after the amendment, requirement of the Prime Minister’s presence will be essential.