Process to appoint Lokpal panel set in motion, govt tells Supreme Court

Centre tells Supreme Court that process of selecting eminent jurist for the Lokpal panel is ongoing

The centre has set the wheels rolling for the appointment of the Lokpal committee by informing the Supreme Court on Tuesday that a meeting for selecting an eminent jurist on the panel has been called for 10 May.

The bench was hearing a contempt of court petition filed by non-government organisation Common Cause.

Deeming it unnecessary to pass an order at this junction, Gogoi said, "We expect you (centre) to appoint the Lokpal at the earliest and take steps in this regard". As per news agency ANI, AG Venugopal submitted before the court that the selection committee had met on April 10 on the matter. The petition alleges a delay in the appointment of the Lokpal.

The court, in April a year ago, had told the government that the anti-corruption body needs to be set up without any delay and the lack of a Leader of Opposition should not hold up the process.

Senior advocate PP Rao was earlier appointed as an eminent jurist in the committee to select the Lokpal, but he died a year ago, leaving the post vacant.

The committee comprises the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha and an eminent jurist. In the meeting, recommendations for induction/appointment of an eminent jurist in the Committee were made and approval of the said recommendation is pending.

In its 2017 judgment, the Court had held that the Lokpal Act as it stood then is a workable piece of legislation and that the Central government need not wait for amending the Act to enforce its provisions.

The Centre had flagged two hurdles in implementing the Lokpal law. However, there is no recognised Leader of Opposition in the current Lok Sabha.

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, it said.

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