High-profile panel for appointing Lokpal met on April 10, process underway: Govt. to SC

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NEW DELHI, APR 17,
The government informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the high-profile committee, led by the Prime Minister, met on April 10 to recommend an eminent jurist to help in the selection of Lokpal.
“K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General, has made a statement that in the meeting of the Selection Committee held on April 10, 2018 recommendations for induction/appointment of an eminent jurist in the Committee has been made and approval of the recommendation is presently pending,” the Supreme Court recorded in its order.
A Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi urged the government to complete the Lokpal appointment process at the earliest.
“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 appointment of Lokpal will be made at the earliest possible,” the Bench said in its order.
The court scheduled the matter for further hearing on May 15.
Besides the Prime Minister, the selection committee is composed of the Chief Justice of India and Lok Sabha Speaker.Mallikarjun Kharge, in his capacity as the leader of the single largest opposition party leader in the Lok Sabha, had refused to attend a meeting of the committee convened on March 1 though he was called as a “special invitee”.
Though passed in 2014, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 was not implemented all these years because there was no Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the 16th Lok Sabha.
The 2013 statute includes the LoP as a member of the selection committee. The Act intends the LoP to be part of the selection committee of the PM, the CJI and the Speaker, which has to first appoint an eminent jurist among their ranks.
However, on April 27 last year, the Supreme Court, in a judgment, clarified that the Lokpal appointment process need not be stalled merely due to the absence of the LoP. The judgment dismissed the government’s reasoning that the Lokpal appointment process should wait till the 2013 Act was amended to replace the LoP with the single largest opposition party leader.
The present hearing before Justice Gogoi’s Bench is based on a contempt petition filed by Common Cause, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, for not implementing the April 2017 judgment of the Supreme Court.

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