The Supreme Court on July 2, 2018 directed the Centre to inform it within 10 days about the time frame for appointing the anti-graft ombudsman Lokpal in the country.
The Supreme Court Bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and R. Banumathi asked the government to file an affidavit within 10 days giving details of the steps which are likely to be taken for appointing the Lokpal.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, placed before the Bench the written instructions he had received from the government on the issue of appointment of Lokpal.
The Central Government on May 15, 2018 informed the apex court that senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi has been appointed as an eminent jurist in the selection committee for appointment of the anti-graft ombudsman Lokpal.
• 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.
• The Supreme Court’s April 2017 verdict clearly stated that there was no justification to keep the enforcement of the Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments were cleared by Parliament.
• The court also stressed that even the absence of a recognised Leader of Opposition (LoP) does not hinder appointment of lokpal.
• The top court 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 do not pose legal hindrances or bar its enforcement.
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, 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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