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Supreme Court reserves verdict on appointment of Lokpal

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-03-2017 Apurva Vishwanath

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved verdict on a plea seeking appointment of a Lokpal, or anti-corruption ombudsman.

Common Cause, a non-profit organisation, had moved the court in 2014 after the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 came into effect.

A bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha heard final arguments by senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioner, and the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi.

According to the government, the appointment of Lokpal has been stalled due to the lack of a leader of the opposition in Parliament. The selection commission comprises five persons including the leader of opposition.

In the appointments to posts for which a leader of opposition is part of the selection process—ike director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC)—the government has allowed Congress party leader Mallikarjuna Kharge to act as leader of opposition.

To be appointed leader of opposition, an MP’s party must have at least a tenth of the strength of the Lok Sabha. Although no party fulfils this criterion currently, the Congress party is the single largest opposition party.

“A bill to allow the leader of the largest opposition party to be a part of the selection committee is pending before the Parliament,” Rohatgi said.

The petitioners have argued that there is 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.

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