SC asks search committee on Lokpal to recommend names by Feb end
New Delhi, Jan 17: The Supreme Court has directed the Search Committee to recommend a panel of names for the appointment of Lokpal and its members by the end of February. The court also asks centre to provide the necessary infrastructure for the Search Committee.
The search committee is headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai.
A bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the Centre to provide the search committee the requisite infrastructure and manpower to enable it to complete its work.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, arguing for NGO 'Common Cause', submitted that the court should issue directions to the search panel to make public minutes of its meetings as it must be disclosed who were the names discussed or shortlisted to the post.
To this, the court replied the moment the search committee submits the name during hearings of the case on March 7, it will give the names to Bhushan.
When Bhushan persisted that the search committee could draft its own rules and hence transparency may be insisted on, CJI Gogoi said why should the court doubt a committee headed by a retired SC judge and comprising eminent persons?
But when Bhushan continued to doubt transparency in the process, CJI Gogoi turned philosophical and said: "Mr Bhushan, don't always look at things in a negative way."
"At least, I should know what is happening,' Bhushan said. "You know more than anybody including even judges as to what is happening in the country," the bench added.
The bench, also comprising Justices L N Rao and S K Kaul, said it would hear the matter again on March 7.The top court had on July 24 last year rejected as "wholly unsatisfactory" the Centre's submission on the issue of setting up of a search committee for the Lokpal and demanded a "better affidavit".
The apex court was also told that the selection committee members comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the then CJI Dipak Misra, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and eminent jurist Mukul Rohatgi had met on July 19 last year to deliberate upon names for members of the search committee.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the leader of the largest opposition party, has been giving a go by to the meetings of the selection panel.
The top court on July 24 last year was told that the selection panel also took note that the search committee is to comprise a minimum of seven people, including chairperson, with experience in anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, policy making, finance including insurance and banking, law and management, etc.
The Centre on September 27, 2018 had constituted an eight-member search committee headed by Justice Desai to recommend names to the selection panel for appointment of a Lokpal.