The Supreme Court has dismissed the government of India’s stand that it cannot appoint the Lokpal as there was no leader of the opposition.
The court’s decision came on a bunch of petitions seeking the appointment of a Lokpal is likely to lead to the first ever appointment of an anti-corruption ombudsman in the country.
According to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act passed in 2013, the center is supposed to appoint a Lokpal as an ombudsman for corruption related issues.
“The institution of Lokpal is yet to become functional, since the Act needs some amendments, inter alia, to resolve certain issues relating to appointment of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal, etc. in the absence of a Leader of Opposition recognized as such in the Lok Sabha,” the Prime Minister’s Office said earlier this year.
The Lokpal law was passed by the Congress Party-led government after massive nationwide uprising led by social campaigner Anna Hazare and his associates such as Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi.
The act was, however, subsequently criticized for envisaging a ‘toothless’ Lokpal and for giving politicians too much of a role in selecting him.
Meanwhile, with no opposition political party securing at least 10% of the Lok Sabha seats, the house no longer has an official head of opposition — one of the key persons who would select the Lokpal.
The the question of how to proceed was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in 2015, which gave its suggestions on how to resolve the imbroglio in December 2015. However, the central government led by Narendra Modi is still studying the suggestions.