Mallikarjun Kharge boycotts Lokpal selection panel meet again
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge told Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterating his objection to invitation extended to him as ‘special invitee’ at the Lokpal selection committee meeting.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge once again turned down the government’s request to attend a meeting of the Lokpal selection panel on Friday as a “special invitee”, saying he could not accept the Opposition being made voiceless on a critical matter.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge accused the government of using his “refusal” to attend the Lokpal selection panel meeting as an “excuse” for not appointing the country’s first anti-corruption ombudsman. He also hit out at the government for not amending the law to facilitate the participation of the Opposition in the selection process.
“Since 2014, the government has not made any attempt to amend the relevant provisions of the Lokpal Act to include the Leader of the Single Largest Party in the Opposition to be a member of the Selection Committee,” he wrote in the letter.
This comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s March 7 direction to the Centre to inform the court within 10 days about the possible dates when the selection panel for the appointment of the country’s first Lokpal would meet.
The Lokpal Search Committee led by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, formed by the government last year, has forwarded three panels of names for chairperson, judicial members and non-judicial members to the Lokpal selection committee.
Kharge also referred to meetings of the search committee and previous meetings of the Lokpal selection panel and alleged that “the intention of the government was only to exclude the Opposition from this crucial process.”
“A ‘Special Invitee’ would not have any rights of participation in the process of selection of the Lokpal and I cannot accept the Opposition being made voiceless in a critical matter,” said Kharge, who hasn’t been recognized as Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha because the Congress didn’t have the requisite number of members in the House.
This is the seventh letter Kharge has written to Modi on the matter since February 28 last year.
The Lokpal Act, passed in 2013, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power, provides for a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to probe corruption cases against public servants.
The Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Chief Justice of India or his nominee, the Leader of the Opposition and an eminent jurist are the members of the Lokpal Selection Committee.
As there is no designated Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha currently, the government has invited Kharge, the leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the House, to the meetings of the selection panel but as a ‘special invitee’.