India Begins Process to Form Anti-Corruption Body Lokpal

A view of the illuminated Rashtrapati Bhavan, South and North Block, during the ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony, at Vijay Chowk, in New Delhi on January 29, 2019. Photo: PIB (Representational image)
A view of the illuminated Rashtrapati Bhavan, South and North Block, during the ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony, at Vijay Chowk, in New Delhi on January 29, 2019. Photo: PIB (Representational image)

The Lokpal Act envisages establishment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to investigate cases of corruption against public servants.

By Rakesh Raman

India’s Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions said today (January 30) that the first meeting of the search committee for recommending a panel of names for appointment as Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal was held on 29th January, 2019. It was stated that all the members of the committee were present during the meeting.

According to the government statement, the committee decided to invite applications / nominations from eligible persons to be considered for the position of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal through an advertisement at the earliest. The committee will meet again within a fortnight to carry on further deliberations.

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While the government had been delaying the constitution of Lokpal, the meeting was held because the Supreme Court of India has set up a February-end deadline for shortlisting the candidates for the appointment as Chairperson and Members of Lokpal by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi-led selection committee.

The eight-member search committee formed to select members of the anti-corruption ombudsman (Lokpal) is headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai.

The Lokpal Act, which envisages establishment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to investigate cases of corruption against public servants, was passed in 2013.

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While Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge was taken as a “special invitee” in the selection committee, he has been repeatedly boycotting the meeting with the demand that he should be made a formal member of the committee.

Kharge has urged the government to amend the Lokpal Act through an ordinance to include the leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha in the selection committee. According to the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, only the leader of the opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha is a member of the selection committee and since Kharge does not have that status, he is not a part of the panel.

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A party should have at least 55 seats or 10 per cent of the strength of the Lok Sabha for its leader to get the LoP status. The Congress is the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha but its leader could not be given the LoP status as it does not have the requisite number of seats to get that status.

The other members in the Lokpal selection committee – headed by the PM – are Lok Sabha speaker, leader of the opposition (LoP), the chief justice of India or a judge nominated by the chief justice, and a jurist nominated by the President or any other member. President Ram Nath Kovind had nominated Mukul Rohatgi, a former Attorney General of India, as the jurist member of the committee.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications on different subjects.

Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau

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Rakesh Raman