Lokpal Selection Committee to meet on July 19: Centre to SC


File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

The Centre, on Tuesday, 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, 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 that 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 time-frame 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 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 was lying vacant since the death of senior advocate P P Rao on September 11 last year.

The apex court, in its last year’s verdict, had said there was no justification to keep the enforcement of Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments, including on the issue of the Leader of Opposition in 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 that 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.