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Apex court seeks Centre’s response on NGO’s plea

A bench of justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph issued notice and asked the Centre to justify within four weeks the search committee (constitution, terms and conditions of appointment of members and manner of selection of panel of names for appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal) rules, 2014 framed under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2014.

Solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, who was present in the court, accepted the notice on behalf of the Centre. The PIL has sought a declaration that certain provisions of the rules are ultra vires of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act and also sought quashing of the entire selection process initiated under the rules alleging that it is ‘illegal, arbitrary’ and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

It has said that the government is going ahead with the selection process despite there being serious flaws in the rules under which selections are being done. ‘Justice K T Thomas and Fali Nariman, who were offered the post of the chairman and member of the search committee respectively, have already declined to accept the offers on these very grounds,’ the petition has said.

‘Therefore, if the selection process of the Lokpal is not stayed during the pendency of the present writ petition, it would be rendered infructuous and public interest would suffer,’ it has said.

It also said that Rule 10 (1) provides that the search committee shall prepare a panel of persons to be considered by the selection committee for appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal, from among the list of persons provided by the central government, ‘directly runs counter to the very object of having an independent Lokpal and the provisions of the said Act’.  ‘At least four sitting judges of this court are reported to have expressed their willingness for being considered for the post of judicial members of the Lokpal. ‘Their candidature, even though permitted under clause (3) of Section 3 of the Act, will seriously compromise the independence of judiciary which is a part of the basic feature of our Constitution will be processing and considering the names of the judges of this court for appointment as judicial members of the Lokpal,’ the petition has said.
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