In the absence of a leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Modi government is exploring the possibility of amending the Lokpal law to include an opposition leader in the selection panel of the anti-corruption watchdog.
The Lokpal law currently says the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha has to be one of the five members of the Lokpal’s selection committee, headed by the Prime Minister.
“There are some amendments under consideration to be able to appoint the Lokpal. No decision has, however, been taken,” a government source told HT.
This is the second citizen-centric law that needs to be tweaked before being implemented. The government had discovered flaws in the whistleblower act – hurriedly passed by Parliament earlier this year – and intends to fix them during the winter session.
Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan has already denied the LoP post to the Congress that has just 44 legislators in the lower House, less than 10% of the seats in the Lok Sabha required for the position.
A government official said one way to break the deadlock was incorporating a provision in the law that allowed the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha be nominated to the selection panel in the LoP’s absence.
A similar provision already exists in the Right to Information Act and the Central Vigilance Commission Act.
The Supreme Court in August had criticised the government’s suggestion that it would appoint the Lokpal without getting an opposition leader on board.
The original version of the Lokpal bill proposed a nine-member selection panel that also included the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha. But the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government removed this provision to downsize the selection committee for the anti-corruption watchdog.