SC refuses to pass any direction on contempt plea over functioning of Lokpal


File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Monday refused to pass any direction with regard to effective functioning of anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal and disposed of a contempt plea filed by an NGO which had sought appointment of the country’s first anti-graft authority.

There is limited scope of contempt petition and the NGO can file a separate petition seeking directions for effective functioning, it said.

A bench of Justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari was told by advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Common Cause that though the country’s first anti-graft body has been appointed, there are no rules framed as to how the complaints will be lodged or no directorate of prosecution, which is affecting its effective functioning.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre said that the contempt plea has become infructuous as all the appointments have been made as per law.

Bhushan then vehemently insisted that his submission on effective functioning be recorded in the order and they be allowed to file a separate petition.

The bench said, “Mr. Bhushan you want court’s shoulder but we will not provide you”.

Venugopal opposed the submission saying that Lokpal is not even party in the petition, therefore no such submission be recorded.

The bench then disposed of the petition saying that “the submission with regard to effective functioning cannot be subject matter of this contempt petition”.

The contempt petition raised the issue of non-appointment of Lokpal despite the apex court’s judgement of April 27, 2017.

On March 27, President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office to Lokpal chairperson former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose.

Former Chief Justices of different high courts — Justices Dilip B Bhosale, Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Abhilasha Kumari and Ajay Kumar Tripathi — have been appointed as judicial members in the Lokpal.

Former first woman chief of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) Archana Ramasundaram, ex-Maharashtra chief secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, former IRS officer Mahender Singh and Gujarat cadre ex-IAS officer Indrajeet Prasad Gautam are non-judicial members of the Lokpal.

On March 7, during the hearing of the plea of NGO, the top court was informed by the Centre that search committee, headed by former apex court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, had recommended to the selection committee three names each for the Lokpal panel — chairperson, judicial member and non-judicial member.

The top court had also refused to pass any direction for putting the names shortlisted by the search committee in public domain after the NGO submitted that the Lokpal Act mentions about transparency and therefore names should be uploaded on the website.