Recommendation for jurist in Lokpal panel awaits approval: Govt to SC
New Delhi: The Centre today told the Supreme Court that a recommendation for induction of an eminent jurist in the selection committee for the appointment of Lokpal was made at a recent meeting of the panel chaired by the Prime Minister and approval was awaited.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi observed that since steps for the appointment of Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman, had already been taken, there was no need to pass any further order at this stage.
“As steps for appointment of the Lokpal have been taken, we do not consider it expedient to pass any further orders at this stage except to express the expectation of the court that the appointment of Lokpal will be made at the earliest possible,” the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on May 15.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that at the April 10 meeting of selection panel, recommendations “for induction/appointment of an eminent jurist in the committee has been made and approval of the said recommendation is presently pending.”
Senior advocate P P Rao was earlier appointed as an eminent jurist in the committee but the post fell vacant after he died last year.
The bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by NGO Common Cause, which had raised the issue of non-appointment of Lokpal despite the apex court’s verdict of April 27 last year.
At the hearing today, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, claimed that the government was “dragging its feet” and eminent jurist in the selection committee has not been named yet.
The Centre had earlier told the apex court that the selection committee has decided to first fill the vacancy of the eminent jurist in the panel before taking further action on appointment of the ombudsman.
The apex court, in its last year’s verdict, had said there was no justification to keep the enforcement of Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments, including on the issue of the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, were cleared by Parliament.
It had said the Act was an eminently workable piece of legislation and “does not create any bar to the enforcement of provisions”.
The top court had 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 did not constitute legal hindrances or bar its enforcement.
The judgement had come on a plea by the NGO and others seeking immediate appointment of Lokpal in the country.