Lokpal: SC gives go-ahead for appointments without leader of opposition
Dismissing the Centre's arguments, the SC gave a go-ahead to the Lokpal Committee to appoint members despite the absence of a leader of opposition. "Surely the chairperson and other two members of the Selection Committee may proceed to appoint an eminent jurist as a Member of the Selection Committee under Section 4(1)(e) of the Act," it said. Amendments couldn't halt operations, the SC noted.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013
The Lokpal Act is an anti-corruption law that was notified in January 2014. The passing of the Lokpal Act was the result of a prolonged struggle by civil society to bring probity in public life. However, despite becoming law in 2014, there is currently no Lokpal in place. Implementation of the Lokpal Act has been stalled due to procedural requirements to select the Lokpal.
Appointment of Lokpal
The Chairperson and members of the Lokpal shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Selection Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of LS Opposition, Chief Justice of India or a SC judge nominated by him.
SC gives Govt an ultimatum on Lokpal
The Supreme Court said yesterday that in the event the central government fails to amend the Lokpal Act to facilitate selection of Lokpal chairperson, the SC would act on its own. The SC comments are in context of the prolonged delay in amendment of appointment process of Lokpal chairperson. The Lokpal Act was notified in 2014 however a Lokpal is not yet in place.
The Lokpal Chairperson hurdle
The Lokpal Act mandated forming a selection committee for appointment of Lokpal Chairperson. The Act requires that amongst others, selection committee be comprised of 'Lok Sabha Opposition Leader' (LPO). However, post 2014 general elections, the largest opposition party, Congress, didn't win 10% Lok Sabha seats and failed to secure LPO post. The Lokpal Act therefore needs to be amended to provide for this scenario.
Is the government delaying?
The government introduced an amendment bill to amend the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act to allow Lokpal selection committee to include 'leader of the largest opposition party'. This amendment bill has however been pending for very long and the government has been accused of deliberately employing delay tactics. The Supreme Court was however unconvinced with the centre's argument that it was not at fault.
How will the Lokpal quagmire resolve?
The SC asked the centre, "Can the government allow a law enacted by Parliament to become redundant?" It further stated that the Lokpal institution must be made functional. SC went on to categorically add that "whether or not the incumbent government wants it" the SC can step in and "make Lokpal functional". The SC has posted this matter for further hearing on December 7.
Lokpal: SC raps Centre over delay in appointment
The SC rapped the Centre for delay in appointment of Lokpal, saying there was no justification for it. The Centre earlier stated appointment of Lokpal, approved in 2013, was halted as parliament had to clear recommended changes, including redefining 'leader of opposition' to make them part of the selection panel. "The judiciary must respect separation of powers," said Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.