Govt to have conclusive opinion on LoP very soon: Union minister

'Conclusive opinion on LoP soon'
New Delhi, Sept 10: The government will very soon have a conclusive opinion on the issue of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Lok Sabha as a member of the selection committees that make appointments in various statutory bodies, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday.

"We had this problem (requirement of LoP). We sought the opinion of the secretary of the Lok Sabha as to what would be the ideal way to proceed. I think very soon we will have conclusive opinion about it. I don't need to speculate," he told reporters during a press conference without indicating whether or not LoP would be a member of selection committees.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had already rejected Congress' demand for LoP status as its nominee.

The Congress with 44 seats in the Lok Sabha has emerged as the second largest party after the BJP with 282 seats, but fell short by 11 to stake claim for the LoP, for which a strength of 55 is required.

Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, said the Government will very soon appoint new chief of Central Information Commission (CIC) and Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).

"As far as the appointment of the CVC is concerned, CVC is still there. He is to retire at the end of September. We will take a call when that happens. The appointment of CIC and other Commissioners is in process. It will happen very soon," he said.

The post of Chief Information Commissioner has been lying vacant for over a fortnight. Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur had relinquished his charge on August 22.

Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar's tenure will end on September 28. There is also a vacancy of Vigilance Commissioner in the CVC as the tenure of J M Garg, one of the two Commissioners, ended on Sunday.

However, there is no mandatory requirement of LoP in the selection committee that recommends persons for Central Vigilance Commissioner, Vigilance Commissioner, chairpersons and members for the Lokpal, official sources said.

The appointment of a Central Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioner is done by the President on the basis of recommendation from a three-member selection committee headed by Prime Minister and comprising Minister for Home Affairs and the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People, as per the Central Vigilance Act, 2003.

The Act further has a provision that when no such leader (LoP) has been recognised then the selection committee can include the leader of the single largest group in Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

"No appointment of a Central Vigilance Commissioner or a Vigilance Commissioner shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy in the Committee," the Act states.

The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President following a recommendation by a selection committee headed by Prime Minister and comprising the Leader of the Opposition and a Union Cabinet Minister (to be nominated by the Prime Minister) as members.

"For the purposes of removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that where the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People has not been recognised as such, the Leader of the single largest group in Opposition of the Government in the House of the People shall be deemed to be the Leader of Opposition," said the Right to Information Act, 2005.


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