The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to justify its rules on appointment of Lokpal. A bench led by Justice R M Lodha issued a notice to the government and sought its response in four weeks.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told the bench that the process was virtually stalled after members of the Search Committee to scout for the anti-corruption ombudsman had quit.
A PIL in the matter was filed by NGO Common Cause, questioning the entire selection process for appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal and sought its stay.
The petition filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, sought to declare “illegal” the Search Committee (Constitution, Terms and Conditions of appointment of members and the manner of selection of Panel of names for appointment of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal) Rules, 2014 framed under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2014.
The PIL sought a declaration that certain provisions of the rules are ultra vires of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act and also sought quashing of the entire selection process initiated under the rules alleging that it is “illegal, arbitrary” and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
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It said that the government is going ahead with the selection process despite there being serious flaws in the rules under which selections are being done.
“Justice K T Thomas and Fali Nariman, who were offered the post of the chairman and member of the Search Committee respectively, have already declined to accept the offers on these very grounds,” the petition said.
“Therefore, if the selection process of the Lokpal is not stayed during the pendency of the present writ petition, it would be rendered infructuous and public interest would suffer,” it said.
It also said that Rule 10 (1) provides that the Search Committee shall prepare a panel of persons to be considered by the Selection Committee for appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal, from among the list of persons provided by the central government, “directly runs counter to the very object of having an independent Lokpal and the provisions of the said Act”.