Govt may not select Lokpal's chairperson, members before polls

Govt may not select Lokpal's chairperson, members before polls

With Lok Sabha polls to be announced tomorrow, the UPA government's efforts to put in place a Lokpal during its tenure is unlikely to fructify.

Sources said today the government will not be able to move ahead on the appointment of the head of the anti-graft body though it can continue with its efforts to constitute a eight-member Lokpal Search Committee.

The government has already faced a setback with former Supreme Court judge K T Thomas yesterday rejecting the offer to head the Search Committee, days after legal luminary Fali Nariman opted out of the panel.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has written to some people with expertise in matters related to anti-corruption, policy making, vigilance, finance and law among other fields to seek their approval to be members of the Search Committee, official sources said today.

As per rules, the Prime Minister-led Selection Committee shall constitute a Search Committee consisting of seven members and a chairperson.

At the same time, the sources said the government's attempt to appoint a Chairperson and members of the anti-corruption body may not fructify before the expiry of its term due to announcement of the Lok Sabha poll schedule by Election Commission tomorrow.

"The government will like to form Search Committee at the earliest. But, it may not go ahead with the selection of chairperson and members of Lokpal once Model Code of Conduct comes into force after poll dates are announced," a senior DoPT official said.

Thomas, who was asked by the government to be on the search panel, said it was not worthwhile for him to head it.

"The reason is when I went through the rules, our committee which is called the Search Committee was to recommend names to Select Committee. The Select Committee need or need not to accept those names. So it was not worth while to have this Search Committee," Thomas had said.

Earlier, Nariman has opted out of the panel.

The Search Committee is mandated to prepare a panel of persons to be considered by the Selection Committee for appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal.

The Selection Committee has as members the Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries. The Centre had already got nominations from various individuals for becoming its chairperson and members.

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