The government has told the Supreme Court that nominating a senior advocate as an eminent jurist in the selection committee for appointing a chairperson and members of the Lokpal would not lead to conflict of interest even if the practicing lawyer appears before a Supreme Court judge who could be in consideration for the post.
“To exclude all practicing advocates from the category of eminent jurists will result in the exclusion of the best talent in choosing a person under this category,” stated an affidavit filed by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), while defending the law to appoint Lokpal chairperson and its members.
Submitted in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an activist organisation Just Society, the Centre rebutted the petitioner’s allegations that a senior lawyer appearing before judges would be unable to participate in the proceedings independently.
The Centre said the eminent jurist would be chosen after he or she is recommended by the members of the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, Speaker of the House, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him.
To contend that the nomination of such an eminent jurist by an “august collegium” would lead to a conflict of interest on the grounds he appeared before judges, who could be applying of the posts, casts serious aspersions on the selection panel, the government submitted.
It further said there was nothing wrong in considering the Chief Justice of India or a sitting SC judge for the appointment in the Lokpal because an appeal against the ombudsman’s actions would lie before the top court.
Brushing aside petitioner’s apprehensions of political interference and allegations of nepotism on the ground the Selection Committee was a small one, the Centre assured the procedure to appoint Lokpal chairperson would be transparent and fair.