Supreme Court hauls up government for not appointing Lokpal

Shanti Bhushan appeared for the the petitioner NGO Common Cause that has challenged the Rules for setting up the Lokpal Search Committee.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: November 23, 2016 4:21 pm
supreme court, lokpal, central government, leader of opposition, delay in lokpal, lokpal bill delayed, lokpal delayed in parliament The court pulled up the government in the course of hearing of a petition by Common Cause

The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its disappointment over the Centre for not appointing Lokpal despite Parliament enacting a law in this regard in January 2014. While the Centre said that the amendment bill is pending in Parliament to include the leader of largest opposition party, a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said that Parliament, by not amending the law, cannot frustrate the mandate for appointment of Lokpal.

 

The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi as to why the court can’t pass an order to include the leader of largest opposition party in the selection committee. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on December 7 when the AG would come back with instructions. Rohtagi told the bench that any order by the court in the present situation would amount to judicial legislation.

Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan appearing for an NGO, Common Cause, said that the Lokpal Bill has been passed after a long struggle and alleged that the government is not doing anything. “We don’t have Lokpal even today, despite the Act being notified in 2014. Even jurist has not been appointed and the will of people is being frustrated. Do you require another Anna andolan?,” Bhushan said. He said that the apex court has to interpret the Lokpal Act to recognise the leader of the largest opposition party as the leader of the opposition (LoP).

Rohatgi said that as per the provisions, the largest opposition party has to have a certain number of MPs in Parliament to claim the post of the leader of the opposition. He said therefore, the government is amending the Act to include the leader of the largest opposition party in the selection committee for appointment of Lokpal. “The amendment bill is pending in Parliament and it will take some time to get passed. There can’t be a protem situation in this case,” the AG said.

To this, Bhushan said that it is a political trick and no Lokpal will be appointed. “There is a lack of political will. You can take my word. They will not pass this bill. The court should direct the first meeting of the committee to select the jurist,” Bhushan said.

The apex court said that the LOP is “dispensable and things can proceed without the LOP”. If there is no LOP, then leader of the largest opposition party can be included in the selection committee, it said. Rohatgi said, “That’s what we have been saying. We have brought in the changes in the Act and the bill is pending before Parliament to include the leader of the largest opposition party in the committee.”

Bhushan said that this problem has to be “solved or the political parties would frustrate the will of the people”.

The senior advocate, while replying to the AG’s contention that asking Parliament to pass the amendment bill would amount to judicial legislation, said that the court is not interfering with the functioning of the House.

“It is something which is outside Parliament and the court can pass directions with regard to that. It should direct that a time-bound meeting of the committee should be held,” Bhushan said.

The court said, “Now we don’t have an LOP for past two-and-a-half years and it is likely that for the next two-and-a-half years, we would not have the LOP. “Since it is not likely to happen, there won’t be any LOP. Then will you allow the law to become redundant just because there is no LOP? An institution like this which is for probity in public life can’t be allowed to become redundant. This institution won’t work like this,” the court said.

To this, the AG asked why the court is assuming that Parliament will not pass the amendment bill. It was Parliament which favoured and passed the Lokpal bill, he said.

The bench said its an urgent situation and the institution like Lokpal should come up. On May 9, the apex court had sought to know from the Centre what steps had been taken for the appointment of Lokpal as per the amended rules.

The bench was hearing a matter filed by Common Cause which sought a direction to the Centre to make the appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal as per the amended rules framed under Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

The NGO in its plea filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan also sought a direction to the Centre to ensure that the procedure for selecting the chairperson and members of Lokpal must be transparent as envisaged under the Act.

“The inaction of the government in making the appointment of Lokpal is arbitrary and unreasonable and hence, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution,” the amended petition of the NGO had said.

It had also said that one of the ways to ensure total transparency in the selection process is that the panel of persons to be prepared by the search committee for consideration by the selection committee must be placed in public domain.

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First Published on: November 23, 2016 4:03 pm
  1. D
    Diplomat
    Nov 23, 2016 at 12:20 pm
    Appointing Lokpal is a burden? Interesting choice of word.
    Reply
    1. A
      ashok s
      Nov 23, 2016 at 11:44 am
      Whenever I see apex court photo I see crows flying helter, shelter on top why . even apex court don't know why .
      Reply
      1. M
        Mercury
        Nov 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm
        Bird brains reside there !!! Mediocre lawyers became Lordships, and continue to sustain mediocrity via nepotism !!!
        Reply
        1. C
          Col S
          Nov 23, 2016 at 12:55 pm
          Reflects Modi's INTENTION in fight against CORRUPTION. LikeDemonitisation, this too is toPROMOTE CORRUPTION and LOOT the country.
          Reply
          1. D
            dd
            Nov 23, 2016 at 1:14 pm
            IE is trying to create panic against government..it appears villagers are more smart than IE reporters..
            Reply
            1. I
              Indiafirst
              Nov 23, 2016 at 12:07 pm
              Anna Hazare is not affiliated to any party. read my replies below to yashpal
              Reply
              1. I
                Indiafirst
                Nov 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm
                No. why should BJP bear all the burden. BJP ped OROP. People are asking BJP for swiss black money, People are doubting surgical strikes, people are doubting black money removal. My blunt question is why judiciary never interfere when congres is ruling but is proactive when BJP rulin. Am I wrong in my observation ?
                Reply
                1. I
                  Indiafirst
                  Nov 23, 2016 at 11:06 am
                  for 10 years of congress rule no court forced lokpal bill. WHY ? WHY ? WHY ?
                  Reply
                  1. I
                    Indian
                    Nov 26, 2016 at 8:21 am
                    Bhakts will never listen to SC because their masters do not believe in democracy. The question here is why Lokpal is not appointed. Please answer it dear bhakt!!!
                    Reply
                    1. I
                      Indian
                      Nov 26, 2016 at 8:19 am
                      Dear Bhakt, stop this nonsense. Reply to the point....why Lokpal is not appointed?
                      Reply
                      1. I
                        Indian
                        Nov 26, 2016 at 8:23 am
                        Namo is not ready appoint Judges at courts. Now they want to byp all democratic insutions.
                        Reply
                        1. Y
                          Yashpal
                          Nov 23, 2016 at 12:43 pm
                          Let's ume the BJP has done all great things you mentioned. But what's wrong in appointing Lokpal? It will only bring more accountability and curb political corruption. What if Congress comes back after 20-25 years? Who will be there to make them accountable? lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Dont be extremist in your thoughts. Whether its BJP or Congress, Lokpal appointment will be for people of India. Don't you agree with my observation.
                          Reply
                          1. Y
                            Yashpal
                            Nov 23, 2016 at 11:28 am
                            Whether it is 10 yrs or 70 yrs, shouldn't govt appoint Lokpal?
                            Reply
                            1. M
                              Mahender Goriganti
                              Nov 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm
                              Reality is different from IE twisted story of gl half full!!
                              Reply
                              1. N
                                naresh
                                Nov 23, 2016 at 11:15 am
                                Either the Supreme Court has just woken up from a deep sleep or their masters have ordered them to bark or they wallets have just been filled to the brink, What is it?
                                Reply
                                1. P
                                  pgb
                                  Nov 23, 2016 at 11:28 am
                                  What do you mean? You have forgotten the big struggle of Anna Hazare?
                                  Reply
                                  1. R
                                    r
                                    Nov 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm
                                    Google and read how Indhira hi reduced judiciary to a small level. How fellows like Abhishek Singhvi pla havoc. Hundreds of examples can be given. But Fonia's slaves cannot understand.
                                    Reply
                                    1. R
                                      r
                                      Nov 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm
                                      How judiciary was there earlier. Google and see how Indhira hi reduced it to nothing. Instead of fiddling your toy, read a lot
                                      Reply
                                      1. R
                                        r
                                        Nov 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm
                                        Yes your Fonia, an ordinary contractor's daughter is a billionaire and now it is not possible.
                                        Reply
                                        1. G
                                          George
                                          Nov 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm
                                          The SC did not bring up the discussion. An NGO introduced a litigation. That is the background of the comment. Congress was forced to p a law by the agitation that brought Modi govt to power. Now they don't want the Lokpal. That will be too inconvenient. The Right has captured power; now it doesn't want anything progressive.
                                          Reply
                                          1. G
                                            George
                                            Nov 23, 2016 at 12:10 pm
                                            The present p time of hindutva vadis is to destroy the insute of the Supreme Court.
                                            Reply
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