The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to place before it the Parliamentary Standing Committee report that suggested amending the law to appoint Lokpal, India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman.
A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur told attorney general Mukul Rohatgi it wants to peruse the report to know the amendments that the panel proposed, which the government claims it has incorporated in the amended bill pending before Parliament. The court will take up the matter on December 14.
In the last hearing, the court had expressed disappointment over the Centre not appointing Lokpal despite Parliament enacting a law in January 2014. In defence, the government said it had amended the bill to include the leader of the largest opposition party in the selection committee to name the Lokpal.
Under the original law a recognised Leader of Opposition (LoP) is the member of the PM-headed committee. Since the present Lok Sabha does not have a LoP, changes were suggested to make the law more flexible.
The CJI on the last date told Rohatgi that it would pass orders to include the leader of the largest opposition party in the selection committee, prompting the law officer to submit the direction would amount to judicial legislation. “The amendment bill is pending in Parliament and it will take some time to get passed. There can’t be a protem situation in this case,” the AG said.
Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, arguing for petitioner, NGO Common Cause, countered Rohatgi and accused the government of lacking “political will.”
The SC said the LoP is “indispensable and things cannot proceed without him”.