The Supreme Court has expressed its disappointment over the central government’s delay in appointing Lokpal, India’s anti-corruption ombusdman.
On Wednesday, a bench headed by T.S. Thakur, chief justice of India, sought explanation from the Central government on the delay and asked why this had not been done till now.
“Why is it taking the government so long? Will it take the rest of the government’s term to change this situation?” Thakur asked.
Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court that lack of a leader in the opposition – one of the five members required for Lokpal institution – had delayed the appointment.
He also said none of the parties in the opposition currently fulfills the criterion of having at least a tenth of the strength of the Lok Sabha, which makes it difficult to form the selection committee.
To address this issue, the Center had moved a bill for amending the Lokpal and Lkayukta Act, 2013 which is currently pending in Parliament, Rohatgi added.
Opposing this argument, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan said there was no need for an amendment as the term ‘leader of opposition’ had been defined under the Salary and Allowances of leader of opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.
The court noted that this was a peculiar situation due to which there was no serving leader of the opposition and the process of implementing the Lokpal Act had come to a halt.
Recognizing the complexity of the situation, the Supreme Court suggested that the Center could issue an ordinance allowing the leader of the largest opposition party to be a part of the selection committee.
The hearing was in response to a plea by Prashant Bhushan led NGO, Common Cause, seeking response from the government about the delay in appointment of Lokpal.
The Supreme Court will heard the case next on December 7.