Fresh plea in SC to stall Lokpal appointment by Centre

Fresh plea in SC to stall Lokpal appointment by Centre

A fresh application was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday to stall a seemingly last bid by the UPA government to appoint the country’s first Lokpal following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s letter to all members of the selection committee to hold a meeting between April 24 and 28.

Singh had on April 11 shot off letters to all the members of the selection committee to appoint the anti-corruption ombudsman and its members.

 The selection committee comprises the prime minister, the speaker of the Lok Sabha, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, the chief justice of India (CJI) or a judge nominated by him, and an eminent jurist. The CJI, Justice P Sathasivam, has nominated Justice H L Dattu as a member of the selection committee.

NGO Common Cause, which challenged the rules framed under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2014, through a PIL, prompting the court last month to issue a notice to the Centre, filed the application for directing the Centre to put the entire selection process in abeyance.

“The latest move by the government to proceed with the appointment of the chairperson and members of the Lokpal, even while this Court is seized of the issue of the validity of the rules framed under the Lokpal Act, is not only highly improper but also illegal and arbitrary. The government is going ahead with the selection process in spite of serious flaws in the rules of selection, which are under challenge,” it said.

It pointed out that the apex court had during the last hearing considered not to pass any interim order on stay, while seeking the government’s response only after Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran made a statement that the government was not doing anything.

“It is because of these illegal and arbitrary provisions of the said rules that Justice K T Thomas, who was offered the post of the chairperson of the search committee, and Fali Nariman, who was selected as one of its members, declined to accept their respective offers and that no one has so far been appointed in their places. The search committee is still headless,” the application filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan said.

“The unseemly haste with which the process of selection is being rushed through by the Central government, which is on its last leg as the Lok Sabha election is underway, clearly indicates a mala fide intent on the part of the government to subvert the process of law and appoint pliable and undeserving persons to the crucial institution of the Lokpal,” the application added.

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