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Tell us when Lokpal panel will meet, Supreme Court tells govt

A chief justice Ranjan Gogoi-led bench asked attorney general KK Venugopal to revert within the fixed deadline.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2019 23:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
A chief justice Ranjan Gogoi-led bench asked attorney general KK Venugopal to revert within the fixed deadline. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave the Centre 10 days to convey to it the possible dates when the selection panel for the appointment of the country’s first anti-graft ombudsman – Lokpal – will meet.

A chief justice Ranjan Gogoi-led bench asked attorney general KK Venugopal to revert within the fixed deadline.

It was earlier informed that former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai-led Lokpal Search Committee has forwarded three panels of names for chairperson, judicial members and non-judicial members to the selection committee.

Venugopal said Desai has informed him about the development and that she sent the recommendations on February 28. He added the shortlisted names are with the selection committee.

The court rejected lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s plea to put the recommended names in the public domain. “Transparency is a subjective term. You have done a good work but there has to be a limit somewhere. You have to stop. We do not think names require to be put in public domain,” Gogoi told Bhushan.

Bhushan appeared for petitioner Common Cause, a non-governmental Organisation that has filed a contempt plea against the Centre for not appointing Lokpal despite a Supreme Court judgement. The Supreme Court had on January 17 ordered the Lokpal search panel to shortlist and recommend the names by February end.

The Lokpal Act was passed in 2013. It envisages the establishment of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to look into cases of corruption against public servants. The Lok Pal Selection Committee comprises the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha speaker, the chief justice of India or his nominee, Leader of the Opposition and an eminent jurist. As there is no leader of Opposition currently, the leader of the Congress legislature party in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, was invited to the meetings as a special invitee, said Venugopal . But Kharge was not attending the meetings, he added.

Venugopal opposed Bhushan’s plea, saying it would open a Pandora’s box if any names are disclosed at this stage.

Bhushan insisted to know the names. But the bench said: “The selection committee is in seize of matter. We have considered the matter. At this stage, we request AG [attorney general] to convey the date of meeting for selecting the Lokpal.”

First Published: Mar 07, 2019 23:15 IST