Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam has nominated his senior colleague Justice H L Dattu to the Lokpal selection committee, according to highly placed sources.
Justice Dattu is the third in seniority in the Supreme Court after the Chief Justice and Justice R M Lodha. With Justice Dattu nominated to the selection panel, both Chief Justice Sathasivam and Justice Lodha will be eligible to become Lokpal.
Justice Lodha is in line to take over as CJI after Sathasivam retires on April 26. Justice Lodha, who is scheduled to retire on September 27, will have five months as CJI. Justice Dattu, who is in line to follow him, will have over a year at the post.
The Lokpal Bill provides for a selection committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, CJI or “a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by CJI”, and a fifth member selected by these four members. This five-member selection committee will choose the Lokpal and other members.
According to the Bill, the fifth member will be an “eminent jurist” who will be nominated by the President on the basis of recommendations of the first four members of the committee “through consensus”. It is reliably learnt that a panel of six jurists will be taken up for consideration this week.
The appointment of the eminent jurist is significant because this member may tilt the balance in case of a tie.