SC Asks Centre for Affidavit on Lokpal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre today to file an affidavit as to the steps taken for appointment of Lokpal which has to be submitted on 17th of January. Dissatisfied by the elected government’s delay in the selection process, the Apex Court said to the Centre “Too much time has gone by. What steps have you taken till now?”.

Attorney General, K.K. Venugopal told the court that many steps had been undertaken since September to set up the Lokpal.

The Apex court was hearing a 2014 contempt petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan-led Common Cause, which challenged the constitutionality of the search committee rules for the appointment of the Lokpal.

In September, the previous year, the Centre constituted an eight-member search committee led by the former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai to recommend names for chairperson and members of the Anti-Corruption Body.

Other members of the search committee include former State Bank of India (SBI) chief Arundhati Bhattacharya, Prasar Bharati chairperson A. Surya Prakash, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) head A.S.Kiran Kumar, former Allahabad High Court Judge Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, and former Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar.

The apex court has repeatedly towed up the government for failing to appoint a Lokpal. The centre, on its part, has argued that in the absence of a leader of opposition in Parliament, the selection committee could not be constituted.

The largest opposition party, the Congress, has only 44 members in the Lok Sabha, lacking the requisite 10% of 545 seats needed for appointment of a leader of the opposition. This in turn will give rise to the need to amend the Lokpal Act. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Actwas passed in 2013 to constitute a statutory body to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries. The case will be heard next on 17 January.

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A team of young journalists headed by Subhransu Panda, founder-editor of Odisha's leading news portal and magazine Odisha Story. Mail: editor@odishastory.com