Lokpal: SC asks for selection panel meeting date

Last Updated 07 March 2019, 09:18 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Attorney General K K Venugopal to tell within 10 days the date for meeting of Prime Minister-headed selection panel to pick the Lokpal.

The top court rejected a plea for disclosing the names chosen for consideration to the post of anti-corruption ombudsman at this stage.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna noted the submission by Venugopal that the search committee headed by former SC judge, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, has already given a panel of names to the post of chairperson, judicial and non-judicial members.

Three panels of names have been sorted out for the post of chairperson, judicial and non-judicial members, the A-G said.

The court, meanwhile, rejected a plea by advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO 'Common Cause', to make public the names selected for consideration by the selection committee, also comprising the CJI, leader of the opposition and eminent jurist.

"Names of recommendation should be put on website. It is the minimum level of the transparency that is required," Bhushan contended.

"Why do you want it now? Show us the provision of Act where it is stated that the names should be disclosed to public.

The procedure is to be transparent manner. Transparency does not mean set connotations. It could mean different things to different people," the bench said.

"Be reasonable. There has to be some limit. We understand the selection committee would record its reasons in choosing the panel," the bench further said, adding, "No direction should be given at this stage under Section 4(4) of the Act".

Venugopal said it would open a pandora's box, if any direction for disclosing names at this stage was made.

Bhushan, for his part, cited the apex court's recent judgement on the appointment of Chief Information Commissioner.

The bench, however, said, " The selection committee is in seisin of matter. We have considered the matter. At this stage, we request AG to convey date of meeting for selecting the Lokpal."

Venugopal informed the court that search committee unanimously finalised the names and recommended three panels as per the apex court's order on February 28.

"The object of the petition has been fulfilled, I wonder if the petition should still be heard," he said.

The court had on January 17 directed the Lokpal search panel to shortlist and recommend names by the end of February for appointment to the post of anti-corruption ombudsman.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 got the assent from President on January 1, 2014. It was notified on January 16, 2014.

The selection panel for the Lokpal comprised the Prime Minister, CJI, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition and an eminent jurist.

However, leader of the largest party in Lok Sabha, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had refused to participate in the meeting.

The Lokpal search committee headed by Justice Desai as chairperson and Justice Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, Ranjit Kumar, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Dr Lalit K Panwar, Shabbirhusein S Khandwawala, A Surya Prakash and Dr A S Kiran Kumar as members were appointed on September 27.

On Thursday, the top court noted that Kharge refused to participate in the meetings as he was invited as 'special invitee' and not as the leader of opposition to the selection panel meeting.

(Published 07 March 2019, 06:23 IST)

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