New Delhi: The anti-corruption Lokpal is in process and the meeting of the selection panel, which includes the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India, will take place on March 1, the government today told the Supreme Court.
- Supreme Court hearing petition by NGO Common Cause
- NGO seeks to know why delay in appointment of a Lokpal
- Law to set up a Lokpal was passed in parliament in 2013
The centre has been asked to submit details on steps it has taken towards appointing a Lokpal, which has been delayed for five years.
The Supreme Court is hearing a petition by the NGO Common Cause asking for action against the centre for the delay in the appointment of a Lokpal.
In April last year, the court told the government that the anti-corruption body should be set up without delay and the lack of a Leader of Opposition should not hold up the process. The ruling meant that the government can select a Lokpal without taking the Congress, the main opposition group, on board.
The law to set up a Lokpal was passed in parliament in 2013 - after a nationwide campaign by activist Anna Hazare that included Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan - and was enacted a year later.
The government had told the court that the Lokpal could not be appointed as there was no Leader of Opposition in the selection panel and a change in law that would allow the Congress - as largest opposition group - to be a member has yet to be approved in parliament.
In 2014, the BJP came to power, replacing the Congress, which was reduced to just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha - not enough to qualify for Leader of Opposition.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the Leader of Opposition's place in the Lokpal selection committee would stay vacant. A party needs to win at least 10 per cent of seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha to qualify.
Amid criticism and prodding from the Supreme Court, the government later made a concession and decided to include the largest opposition party in selection panels not just for the Lokpal but also for CBI chief.
Besides the Prime Minister and Chief Justice, others on the selection panel are the Lok Sabha Speaker and an eminent jurist.