Lokpal appointment issue

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Why is there delay in its appointment?

  • The hiring of the Lokpal is held up on a technicality. The 2013 law stipulated the selection panel will be headed by the prime minister and will include the leader of the opposition, the speaker of the Lok Sabha, the chief justice of India and an eminent jurist.
  • But the present Lok Sabha does not have a leader of the opposition. So, the government moved an amendment to the law to enable the leader of the single largest party to be part of the selection committee.
  • However, the opposition called for closer scrutiny of some other provisions the government included in the amendment. The tweaked bill then went to a parliamentary committee which gave its suggestions last year. The government is yet to make a decision on this.

What has the SC said?

  • SC has said the Leader of Opposition is “dispensable” and things can proceed even without LoP who can be replaced by the leader of the largest opposition party in the committee.
  • The Supreme Court has also expressed disappointment when the Centre said the amendment to replace LoP with the leader of the largest opposition party in the proposed selection committee of Lokpal is pending with Parliament and asking it to clear would amount to “judicial legislation”.
  • SC has made it clear in a judgment that Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 an “eminently workable piece of legislation” and there is no justification to keep the enforcement of the Act under suspension till the amendments, as proposed, are carried out.
  • If an appointment process done by a “truncated” Lokpal Selection Committee is already recognised under the 2013 Act, why should the government wait for any amendments at all.

 

What is government’s stand?

Government’s argument is that appointments of Lokpal chairperson and members is not currently possible, and would have to wait till the 2013 Act is amended to replace the LoP with the single largest Opposition party leader.

Government appoints Search Committee for Lokpal:

  • Government has constituted eight-member search committee to recommend names for posts of Lokpal chairperson and members.

Supreme Court Sets a Deadline

The Supreme Court has set a February-end deadline for the search committee to send a panel of names who could be considered for the appointment as chairman and members of Lokpal by Prime Minister led selection committee.

Selection of Lokpal

  • The names proposed by the search committee would be scrutinised by the selection committee headed by Prime Minister and comprising of Speaker of Lok Sabha, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by CJI and an Eminent jurist to be nominated by President of India on basis of recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee through consensus.