Those who have at all kept up with the news in the last 5 years would know about the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2013.
Remember when Anna Hazare started a civil society movement called India Against Corruption? Back when there was no AAP; Arvind Kejriwal and Anna were BFFs? To everyone’s surprise, the act was passed by the Parliament. But to no one’s surprise, 3 years later, it still hasn’t been enacted.
I’ll take a quick look into the Lokpal Bill, to familiarize you with what this actually means.
There will be corruption authority at the centre called Lokpal and at the State called Lokayukta. With a chairperson an maximum 8 members, everything except the armed forces fall within the Lokpal. The states need to appoint Lokayuktas within a year of appointment. Public servants are required to declare their assets and liabilities, including those of dependants. For the protection of whistleblowers, a separate Act was passed.
The Lokpal is to selected and appointed by the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, a jurist nominated by the President, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition.
Now let me appraise you with the problem in Lokpal Bill.
The Bill, as mentioned requires for there to be a Leader of Opposition for appointing the Lokpal. The problem is that there isn’t one since none of the opposition parties have a 10% member count in the Lok Sabha, as is required for a Leader of Opposition to be appointed.
An amendment was planned out which could enable the leader of the largest party in the opposition to be on the Lokpal panel. This cannot happen till the Parliament comes into session again, whic isn’t going to happen until July.
Supreme Court orders to appoint Lokpal without further delay
The latest update in the matter is the Supreme Court informing the Government that there is no justification for the delay in appointment of the Lokpal.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi lead the bench which said that it is an “eminently workable piece of legislation”.
The centre was being represented by the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who kept insisting that the amendment was necessary so as to allow the Act to implemented properly.
The petitioner in the case, NGO Common Cause has been contesting that the Act’s implementation was being delayed for the fulfillment of ulterior motive. The Court has previously criticized the government in it’s slow and unfair approach in this Act.
But today it gave a clear message of getting the Act implemented anyhow, since they did not want the Act to become invalid “merely because of the reason of any vacancy in the selection committee.”
In the absence of the Leader of Opposition, the other members may appoint the Panel with an eminent Jurist as an additional member on the panel.