Delay in appointing Lokpal not justified, SC tells Modi government

Government had said that Lokpal cannot be appointed as changes to its selection panel have to be passed by Parliament.

New Delhi: There is no justification for keeping the anti-corruption Lokpal on hold, the Supreme Court told the Narendra Modi government on Thursday.

The Supreme Court made the ruling based on a petition that stated that the process has been delayed for three years, said an NDTV report.

The law to appoint a Lokpal was passed in Parliament in 2013 by the UPA government, following an agitation by activist Anna Hazare, which saw mass support.

In March, the government told the apex court that the Lokpal cannot be appointed for now as important changes to a committee which will select its members have yet to be cleared by Parliament.

The ‘important changes’ refer to redefining ‘Leader of the Opposition’, to enable him or her to be a part of the Lokpal selection panel.

The change is necessitated because the Congress, with just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha following the 2014 elections, failed to qualify for the post of Leader of Opposition.

"The judiciary must respect separation of powers and can't direct parliament to pass amendments. It is the wisdom of the parliament to pass it," the government's top lawyer Mukul Rohatgi was quoted as saying, in his argument that the change has to be cleared in Parliament.

After Modi government came to power in 2014, it said the place of the Opposition Leader in the Lokpal panel would stay vacant. But in a reversal, it later allowed the Congress to be part of selection panels in Lokpal, Central Vigilance Commission and CBI.

Other members of the Lokpal selection panel are the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge, and an eminent jurist.

A group of NGOs and activists have asked the top court to step in as it has been three years since the Lokpal law was passed but an ombudsman has not been appointed. Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan has been especially scathing in his attack on the Modi government, said the report.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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