The Union Government on 3 September 2014 notified Lokpal Search Committee Rules with some amendment in Rule 10 of the Search Committee Rules. The new rules gave freedom to the Lokpal search committee to shortlist and recommend names of members of the Lokpal including Chairman from outside the list provided by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
Norms under the new rules
• The rules has omitted restrictions for the search committee to recommend the names from the list provided by the DoPT
• Composition of the search committee has been reduced to eight members including Chairman from nine having special knowledge in anti-corruption, public administration and vigilance among others
• A deadline of 30 days has been provided to Search Committee to recommend names for scrapping.
• The candidates should be three times the number of vacancies available for the Lokpal Search Committee
Earlier Provisions in the Lokpal Search Committee Rules
• The Rule 10 said that the Lokpal Search Committee would select the nine-members of the Lokpal including Chairman from among the list of persons provided by the Union Government in the Department of Personnel and Training.
• Search Committee recommends names for Chairman and members of Lokpal to the Prime Minister who then draws up the final list.
• The Prime Minister may or may not pick names suggested by the Search Committee
• President of India, finally, appoints the Chairman and the eight members of the Lokpal
Reason for the Amendment in the Search Committee Rules
The amendment in the Rule 10 is a course correction after the former Supreme Court judge Justice KT Thomas opted out from heading the search committee in March 2014. He opted out after citing lack of autonomy. He objected to the provisions that empowered the search committee to shortlist candidates only from the list that was provided to them by DoPT.
Even eminent jurist Fali Nariman had turned down the post of a member of the panel citing the same reason.
Comment: This notification that highlights the changes in the search committee rules will help the government to go ahead with the process of appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal.
Who: Union Government
When: on 3 September 2014