Supreme Court asks AG to inform within 10 days date for meeting of Lokpal selection committee

New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Attorney General K K Venugopal to inform it within 10 days about a possible date for meeting of the selection committee for appointment of Lokpal and its members.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was informed by Venugopal that the search committee headed by former apex court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai has recommended three panels of names to the selection committee for appointment of chairperson, judicial and non-judicial members.

The AG told the bench, also comprising Justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, that he will ask the Secretary of the Department of Personnel and Training to ensure that the meeting of the prime minister-headed selection committee is convened as early as possible.

The top court also refused to pass directions to disclose names in the three panels. It had earlier requested the search committee on Lokpal to recommend by February end a panel of names for appointing the country’s first anti-graft ombudsman.

The top court had asked the Centre to make available requisite infrastructure, manpower, secretarial assistance and others to enable the committee, headed by Desai, to commence its work immediately and conclude it within the time frame.

It was hearing a contempt petition filed by NGO Common Cause which has raised the issue of non-appointment of Lokpal despite the apex court’s judgement of April 27, 2017.

The search committee will forward the names to the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the largest opposition party and an eminent jurist.

The other members of the search committee are former chief of State Bank of India Arundhati Bhattacharya, Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash, Indian Space Research Organisation head A S Kiran Kumar, former judge of Allahabad High Court Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, former Gujarat Police head Shabbirhusein S Khandwawala, retired IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre Lalit K Panwar, and former Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar.

On January 4, the apex court had directed the Centre to place on affidavit the steps for Lokpal’s appointment and had expressed its displeasure over the tardy progress made in this regard.

It had asked the attorney general to file an affidavit explaining in detail the various steps, including setting up of a search committee by the competent authority for recommending names for the appointment.

The top court on July 24 last year had rejected as “wholly unsatisfactory” the Centre’s submission on the issue of setting up of a search committee for Lokpal and demanded a “better affidavit”. It was also told that the selection committee had met on July 19 last year to deliberate names for members of the search committee.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the leader of the largest opposition party, has been giving a go by to the meetings of the selection panel.

The top court was earlier told that the selection panel also took note that the search committee is to comprise a minimum of seven people, including chairperson, with experience in anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, policy making, finance including insurance and banking, law and management, etc.

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