SC reserves judgement on plea for appointment of Lokpal

SC reserves judgement on  plea for appointment of Lokpal
The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its judgement on a plea for appointing a Lokpal. The Centre contended that the appointment cannot be made till the bill pending before Parliament for substituting the Leader of the Opposition with the leader of the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha is passed.

Under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, notified in 2014, the Lokpal is to be selected by a committee comprising the prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him, and an eminent jurist. Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted before a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha that the PILs seeking appointment of Lokpal were misconceived as there cannot be mandamus to legislature.

The amendment bill is pending before Parliament which recognises the leader of the largest party in the Lok Sabha as Leader of the Opposition  for the purpose of the appointment of a Lokpal, he said. At present, there is no Leader of Opposition as the leading Opposition party fell short of winning the mandatory 10% of the total number of seats.

The amendment bill may be taken up in the Monsoon session, Rohatgi said, adding that there were large-scale amendments on which the government had to take a final view. Appearing for the petitioner NGO, Common Cause, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan said though the Lokpal Act came into force in 2014, the anti-corruption ombudsman was not being appointed by the government with an ulterior motive.

Bhushan and advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan, who was appearing for a similar petition, contended that the amendment to the law was deliberately put on hold since the government has already amended various other statutes, including those for selection of the chief vigilance commissioner, CBI chief information commissioner, to substitute LoP with the leader of the single-largest party in the Opposition.

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