Will India finally get a Lokpal? Attorney General KK Venugopal says process set in motion
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Will India finally get a Lokpal? Attorney General KK Venugopal says process set in motion

Murali Krishnan

Attorney General for India, KK Venugopal today told the Supreme Court that the process for appointing Lokpal has been set in motion.

He was responding to a contempt petition filed by NGO Common Cause citing non-implementation of the Supreme Court’s judgment of April 2017.

In its 2017 judgment, the Court had held that the Lokpal Act as it stood then is a workable piece of legislation and that the Central government need not wait for amending the Act to enforce its provisions.

Subsequently, no progress had been made by the Centre pursuant to the judgment, leading to the contempt petition.

Appearing before a Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi, AG Venugopal told the Court that the Selection Committee envisaged by Section 4 of the Lokpal Act, had met on April 10. In the meeting, recommendations for induction/appointment of an eminent jurist in the Committee were made and approval of the said recommendation is pending.

“Shri K.K. Venugopal, learned Attorney General has made a statement that in the meeting of the Selection Committee held on 10th April, 2018 recommendations for induction/appointment of an eminent jurist in the Committee has been made and approval of the said recommendation is presently pending.”

The Court, therefore, desisted from passing any order “at this stage” instead adjourning the matter. It also expressed hope that the appointment of Lokpal would be made at the earliest.

“As steps for appointment of the Lokpal have been taken we do not consider it expedient to pass any further orders at this stage except to express the expectation of the Court that appointment of Lokpal will be made at the earliest possible.”

The case will now be taken up on May 15.

Non-appointment of Lokpal has been a contentious issue. Before the Supreme Court passed its judgment in 2016, the Central government had maintained throughout that the Lokpal Act cannot be enforced without a Leader of Opposition.

The Court in its 2016 judgment, had turned down this submission by the Centre and had made it clear that the absence of Leader of Opposition in the Selection Committee will not make appointment of Lokpal invalid.

The Selection Committee which appoints Lokpal, consists of the Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him and an eminent jurist who is to be recommended by the aforementioned four members.

Read the order below.

Common-Cause-v.-Ajay-Mittal.pdf
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