While the NDA government is yet to take a final call on granting Leader of Opposition status in the Lok Sabha to the Congress, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has quoted guidelines that allow “the leader of the single largest group in opposition” in the Lok Sabha — Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge in this case — to be a part of the three-member committee that will select the next Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).
The CVC is appointed by the President after selection by the three-member committee which is headed by the Prime Minister and has the Home Minister and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha as members.
The guidelines, annexed with DoPT Secretary Dr S K Sarkar’s letter to all union secretaries regarding appointment of the CVC and vigilance commissioner, carry an “explanation” on the composition of this three-member committee.
“For the purpose of this sub-section, ‘the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People’ shall, when no such leader has been so recognised, include the leader of the single largest group in opposition of the government in the House of the People,” says the explanation.
With 44 seats in the Lok Sabha, the Congress is the single largest party in the opposition, despite falling short by 11 seats to be able to stake claim for the Leader of Opposition post.
The posts of CVC and vigilance commissioner are set to fall vacant on September 28 and September 7 respectively, when incumbents Pradeep Kumar and J M Garg complete their tenures.
The DoPT has asked all union secretaries to “sponsor/ recommend names of suitable persons” with “known impartiality and integrity” by August 8. “Looking to the urgency and importance of the matter, I shall be grateful if personal attention is given to this,” says the letter.
After considering all the applications, a panel of five names will be recommended by the Minister of State (Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions) for consideration of the three-member selection committee. The five shortlisted persons will be required to furnish declarations that they are not facing any criminal investigation or trial.
“In case one or more candidates shortlisted in the five names for submission to the selection committee does not furnish the declaration or is found to be ineligible, the MoS may add one or more names from the shortlist submitted by the Secretary, DoPT. This will ensure that the panel of five names that goes to the selection committee would consist only of such people who have given the declaration,” say the guidelines.