SC pulls up Centre over non-appointment of Lokpal
The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its disappointment over the Centre for not appointing Lokpal despite Parliament enacting a law in this regard in January 2014.
While the Centre said that the amendment bill is pending in Parliament to include the leader of largest opposition party, a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said that Parliament, by not amending the law, cannot frustrate the mandate for appointment of Lokpal.
The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi as to why the court can’t pass an order to include the leader of largest opposition party in the selection committee.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on December 7 when the AG would come back with instructions.
Rohtagi told the bench that any order by the court in the present situation would amount to judicial legislation.
Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan appearing for an NGO, Common Cause, said that the Lokpal Bill has been passed after a long struggle and alleged that the government is not doing anything.
“We don’t have Lokpal even today, despite the Act being notified in 2014. Even jurist has not been appointed and the will of people is being frustrated. Do you require another Anna andolan?,” Bhushan said.
The apex court said that the LOP is “dispensable and things can proceed without the LOP”. If there is no LOP, then leader of the largest opposition party can be included in the selection committee, it said.
Rohatgi said, “That’s what we have been saying. We have brought in the changes in the Act and the bill is pending before Parliament to include the leader of the largest opposition party in the committee.” Bhushan said that this problem has to be “solved or the political parties would frustrate the will of the people”.
The senior advocate, while replying to the AG’s contention that asking Parliament to pass the amendment bill would amount to judicial legislation, said that the court is not interfering with the functioning of the House.
“It is something which is outside Parliament and the court can pass directions with regard to that. It should direct that a time-bound meeting of the committee should be held,” Bhushan said. The court said, “Now we don’t have an LOP for past two- and-a-half years and it is likely that for the next two-and-a- half years, we would not have the LOP. “Since it is not likely to happen, there won’t be any LOP.
Then will you allow the law to become redundant just because there is no LOP? An institution like this which is for probity in public life can’t be allowed to become redundant. This institution won’t work like this,” the court said.
To this, the AG asked why the court is assuming that Parliament will not pass the amendment bill. It was Parliament which favoured and passed the Lokpal bill, he said. The bench said its an urgent situation and the institution like Lokpal should come up.