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Lokpal search committee must have SC/STs,minorities: House panel

The parliamentary panel studying the Lokpal bill has recommended “appropriate representation” for the weaker sections in the search committee.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
December 8, 2011 1:56:09 am

The parliamentary panel studying the Lokpal bill has recommended “appropriate representation” for the weaker sections in the search committee.

The standing committee on law and justice has,however,maintained that the choice of the ombudsman “has to achieve the selection of the best and the brightest at the entry point”.

The committee,which adopted its final report this evening,has suggested that the search panel must include “certain sections of society who have been historically marginalized”.

The Lokpal,the panel said,must be “a relatively small body of nine members” and though “specific reservation cannot and ought not to be provided in the Lokpal institution itself,there should be a provision… to the effect that the selection committee and the search committee shall make every endeavour to reflect,on the Lokpal institution,the diversity of India by including the representation,as far as practicable,of historically marginalized sections of the society like SCs/ STs,OBCs,minorities and women”.

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The house panel has mooted a selection committee comprising the prime minister (who will also be chairperson),speaker of the Lok Sabha,Chief Justice of India,leader of the opposition of the lower house and an eminent Indian,to be selected jointly by the three designated constitutional bodies — the Comptroller and Auditor General of India,the Chief Election Commissioner and the UPSC chairman. This nomination would be for a term of five years.

The search committee,according to the panel’s report,“shall comprise at least seven members and shall ensure 50 per cent representation to members of SCs and/or STs and/or Other Backward Classes and/or minorities and/or women or any category or combination thereof”.

The standing committee acknowledged that “judicial training and experience imparts not only a certain objectivity but a certain technique of adjudication which,intrinsically and by training,is likely to lead to greater care and caution in preserving principles like fair play,natural justice,burden of proof and so on and so forth”.

However,it said,“when a new and nascent structure like Lokpal is being contemplated,it is necessary not to fetter or circumscribe the discretion of the appointing authority.”

Therefore,“…to consider,as the Lokpal Bill 2011 does,only former chief justices of India or former judges of the Supreme Court as the chairperson of the Lokpal would be a totally uncalled for and unnecessary fetter”.

For state Lokayuktas,the panel suggested a selection committee comprising the chief minister,the speaker of the Vidhan Sabha,the leader of opposition in the lower house,the chief justice of the high court and a joint nominee of the state election commissioner,the state auditor-general and the state PSC chairman or,where one or more of such institutions is absent in the state,a joint nominee of comparable institutions having statutory status within the state.

The panel has called for the inclusion of the chief minister in the Lokpal’s domain.

It has said,“The committee believes that the position of the state chief minister is not identical to that of the prime minister. The arguments for preventing instability and those relating to national security or the image of the country do not apply in case of a chief minister. Finally,while Article 356 is available to prevent a vacuum for the post of chief minister,there is no counterpart constitutional provision in respect of the federal government.”

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