The Supreme Court on Thursday requested the search committee to complete its task of shortlisting names for Lokpal and its members by February end and submit the list for consideration to the Selection Committee. The apex court will hear the matter next on March 7.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also directed the Centre to provide the search committee, which is led by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai, the necessary infrastructure and manpower to complete its work.
The direction of the bench, which also comprises Justices L N Rao and S K Kaul, came after Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, pointed out certain problems like lack of infrastructure due to which the search committee was not able to hold deliberations on the issue.
The court was hearing a contempt plea filed by NGO Common Cause against the government for delaying the appointment of Lokpal. Appearing for the NGO, advocate Prashant Bhushan raised doubts on the working of the Search Committee.
To this, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “Don’t look at things from a negative point of view. Look at things positively and the world would be a better place. We are trying to make the world a better place.”
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, enacted in 2013, received presidential assent on January 1, 2014, and came into force on January 16, 2014. However, the appointment of the first Lokpal is yet to occur. Some states are also yet to appoint Lokayuktas.
The selection committee comprises of the prime minister, the leader of the single largest opposition party, the Lok Sabha speaker and an eminent jurist.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the leader of the largest opposition party, has so far skipped meetings of the selection panel, taking objection to the government inviting him as a “Special Invitee”. Kharge has maintained that there is no provision in the Lokpal Act for a Special Invitee.
Social activist Anna Hazare has threatened to launch a hunger strike from January 30 over the Centre’s failure to appoint the Lokpal as per the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013.