'Process to appoint Lokpal going on; meeting on March 1'
New Delhi: Government on Friday the Supreme Court that the process for appointing the anti-graft ombudsman Lokpal is going on and a meeting of the selection committee, which includes the Prime Minister, has been scheduled for March 1.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told a bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi that steps for appointing Lokpal have been taken and the selection panel, comprising the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of Lok Sabha and leader of the largest opposition party, would hold a meeting on March 1 to discuss the issue.
The bench, while taking into account the submission of the Attorney General, posted the matter for hearing on March 6 and asked the Secretary of Department of Personnel and Training to file an affidavit about the "steps taken and proposed".
"The Attorney General for India has submitted that steps under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 is under way and a meeting has been scheduled on March 1, 2018. The steps taken and proposed may be indicated in an affidavit of the Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Personnel and Training be filed on March 5, 2018 when the Court re-opens after the Holi holidays," the bench noted in its order.
The bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by NGO Common Cause which has raised the issue of non-appointment of Lokpal despite the apex court's verdict of April 27 last year.
Venugopal informed the bench that there was a delay in the process due to the death of senior advocate P P Rao, who was one of the members of the committee, last year.
The top court, in its last year's verdict, had said there was no justification to keep the enforcement of Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments, including on the issue of the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, were cleared by the Parliament.
The court had said that the Act was an eminently workable piece of legislation and "does not create any bar to the enforcement of the provisions".
It had said the amendments proposed to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013, and the views of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, were attempts to streamline the working of the Act and does not constitute legal hindrances or bar its enforcement.
The court had also said that such attempts for amendment cannot halt the operation and execution of the law which the executive in its wisdom has already given effect to and has brought into force by resorting to the provisions of the Act.
The judgement had come on a plea by the NGO and others seeking immediate appointment of Lokpal in the country. The court had said that section 4(2) of the Act makes it clear that the appointment of Chairperson or a Member of the Lokpal will not become invalid merely because of the reason of any vacancy in the selection committee.
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