The Supreme Court on July 24, 2018 asked the Union Government to file a detailed affidavit mentioning all the steps being taken for setting up a search committee for suggesting probable names for the appointment of Lokpal.
The Supreme Court bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice R. Bhanumathi and Justice Navin Sinha expressed dissatisfaction over the Centre’s response on appointment of search committee members.
The bench described the affidavit filed by the Centre as "insufficient” and directed the Department of Personnel and Training to file a fresh affidavit with full particulars in four weeks time.
Earlier on July 2, 2018, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to inform it within 10 days about the time frame for appointing the anti-graft ombudsman Lokpal in the country.
The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by NGO Common Cause, which had raised the issue of non-appointment of the ombudsman despite the apex court’s verdict on April 27, 2017.
Formation of the Search Committee is time-taking process: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal
• Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the court about the meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee in which it had decided to set-up the search committee. The committee in its next meeting would suggest names for the Search Committee.
• Venugopal also mentioned that the Search Committee formation process would take time as people to be included in the search committee have to be expert in law, finances, fighting corruption and other areas.
• Once the Selection Committee finalises the names for the search committee, these names will be scrutinised by the Intelligence Bureau.
• 50 percent members of the search committee will be from the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes.
Arguments presented by the counsel Prashant Bhushan
• Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, accused the Centre for not carrying out the legislative mandate to appoint anti-corruption watchdog Lokpal.
• He also told the court that in last four and half years, the selection committee has only senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi in the category of eminent jurist.
Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013
• The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013 to constitute a statutory body to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries.
• Under the Act, the appointments to Lokpal is made by a high-level selection committee of the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition Party (LoP), Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist chosen by them.
• The sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the 2013 Lokpal Act makes it clear that an appointment of the chairperson or members of Lokpal will not be invalidated merely because one of the members of the selection committee — the LoP — is missing.
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