Stating that the absence of a Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha could not be allowed to stall the appointment of the Lokpal any longer, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that the Lokayukta's Act of 2013 was a "workable piece of legislation" which needed to be implemented without any more delay.
According to the Act, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha will be part of the Lokpal selection panel. But at present, there is no Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
What this essentially means is that the Modi government does not need to take into confidence the Congress, the main opposition party, for the appointment of the Lokpal.
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- Referring to an earlier judgment of the top court, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Naveen Sinha said, "We are holding that it is a workable piece of legislation and it is not justifiable to keep its appointment pending because of the absence of the Leader of Opposition."
- The Supreme Court had on March 28 reserved its ruling on a batch of pleas seeking the appointment of Lokpal in India.
- Earlier, while appearing for NGO Common Cause, senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan had said that even though the Lokpal Bill was passed by Parliament in 2013 and came into effect in 2014, the government was deliberately not appointing the Lokpal.
- Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had said that the Lokpal could be appointed in the current scenario as amendments regarding the definition of the Leader of the Opposition in the Lokpal Act were pending in Parliament.
- On November 23, 2016, the apex court had pulled up the Centre over delay in the appointment of Lokpal, saying that it should not allow the law to become a "dead letter".
- In the Lok Sabha, the largest opposition party Congress only has 45 members. It lacks the necessary 10 per cent of the total 545 seats, required to amend the present Lokpal Act.
- The petition by NGO Common Cause had sought a direction to the Centre to make the appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal according to the amended rules framed under the Lokpal and Lokayukta's Act, 2013.
- The NGO, in its appeal filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, had also sought a direction to the Centre to ensure that the process for selecting the chairperson and members of Lokpal be transparent as envisaged under the Act.
(WITH INPUTS FROM PTI)