Will India finally have a Lokpal soon ? The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking the appointment of the chief ombudsman.
“We have heard the arguments of all the parties. Judgment (is) reserved”, a Bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
The hearing of the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause had touched its peak on November 23, 2016 when the apex court pulled up the Centre over the delay in appointment of Lokpal saying it should not allow the law to become a “dead letter.”
NOT POSSIBLE IN CURRENT SCENARIO: AG
Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi had argued that the Lokpal cannot be appointed in the current scenario as amendments regarding the definition of the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lokpal Act was pending in the Parliament.
As per the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha will be part of the Lokpal selection panel. At present, there is no Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. He said that the Congress, the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha, lacks requisite number of MPs. Therefore, the Leader of Opposition post was not granted to it.
“Unless the proposed amendment making Leader of the Largest Opposition party as Leader of Opposition is passed by Parliament, the Lokpal can’t be appointed,” Rohatgi said.
BHUSHAN SOUGHT SPEEDY APPOINTMENT
Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, said that even though the Lokpal Bill was passed by the Parliament in 2013 and came into effect in 2014, the Lokpal is not being appointed by the government deliberately.
He said that the Lokpal Act mandates that the Lokpal should be appointed expeditiously.
On December 7, 2016, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to place before it a copy of the report of a parliamentary standing committee suggesting amendments to the Lokpal law, and sought to know about the changes required to make the anti-graft ombudsman functional.
The apex court had said that the Lokpal law that came into being after a nationwide stir led by Anna Hazare cannot be made redundant just because the legislation was not amended to bring in the leader of the largest Opposition party in the selection panel.