Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Friday said he will not attend the Lokpal Selection Committee meeting. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge said he “cannot accept the opposition being made voiceless in the critical matter” of the selection of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
In his letter to PM Modi raising his objections in being invited as a ‘special invitee’ to the meeting, Kharge said the BJP government in the past four years could have amended the Lokpal Act to include the “leader of the single largest opposition party”.
“Since 2014, the government has not made any attempts to amend the relevant provisions of the Lokpal Act to include the Leader of the single largest party in the Opposition to be a member of the committee,” Kharge said.
On March 7, the Supreme Court directed Attorney General K K Venugopal to inform in 10 days when it would be possible to convene a meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee. The meeting is scheduled to be held today.
The direction came after the AG told the court that the chairperson of the Lokpal Search Committee had, by a communication dated February 28, informed that the committee had forwarded three panels of names to be considered for the appointment of the chairperson, judicial and non-judicial member.
Kharge said the fact that all meetings have been held as scheduled despite his non-attendance and has formed shortlisted names for the Lokpal “shows that the intention of the Government was to only exclude the Opposition from this crucial process.”
The PM-chaired committee, formed in September last year despite concerns raised by the Congress, has former chief of State Bank of India (SBI) Arundhati Bhattacharya, Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) head A S Kiran Kumar as members.
Besides them, former Allahabad High Court judge Sakha Ram Singh Yadav; former Gujarat Police head Shabbirhusein S Khandwawala; retired IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre Lalit K Panwar; and Ranjit Kumar are the other members of the panel.