The Supreme Court may have emphasised on the importance of the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha for the appointment of Lokpal, but the role of LoP is equally crucial in appointments to several other statutory bodies.
Be it the National Human Rights Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission or the Central Information Commission — the law assigns a role to the LoP in key appointments to these bodies.
However, many of these appointments can be made even in the absence of the LoP.
The law either provides that a vacancy in the appointing panel would not invalidate the appointment or clarifies that if there is no recognised LoP, the leader of the largest party in the opposition should be part of the selection panel.
For example, section 4 of the NHRC Act, 1993 says appointments of the chairman and members of the Commission shall be made on the recommendation made by a panel comprising the PM, Home Minister, LoP-Lok Sabha, LoP-Rajya Sabha and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman. However, Section 4(2) clarifies that a vacancy in the appointing panel would not invalidate the appointment.
Similarly, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 prescribes that Lokpal Chairman and members shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a panel comprising the PM, LS Speaker, LoP (LS), CJI or a CJI-nominated SC judge and an eminent jurist.
But Section 4(2) of the Act says no appointment of a Chairman or a member shall be invalid merely because there is a vacancy in the selection panel.
But the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 and the Right to Information Act, 2005 do not insist on the presence of LoP on the panel.
In the absence of a recognised LoP, the leader of single largest opposition party would become part of the selection panel that appoints CVC and Central Information Commissioners under these two Acts.
The real question is not whether there should be LoP on all such selection panels. It is whether opposition should be represented on such panels, particularly if it relates to the appointment of the country’s first ombudsman — Lokpal.