SC seeks parliamentary panel report on Lokpal

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New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Central government to place before it the report of the parliamentary committee that had examined the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2014 as government told the court that there were many issues that needed to ironed out before the law could be operationalised.

The bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao sought the report as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court treating the leader of the single largest opposition party as leader of the opposition for the purposes of the Lokpal law was just one issue and there were other issues that needed to be addressed.

On the question of the leader of opposition, the court said: “If that is the area, we can make it clear that this (leader of opposition) would mean this (leader of the single largest opposition party).”

As Rohatgi said: “We will expedite the process by which government takes the final call”, the court asked which were the other areas where the government was making changes for the working of the Lokpal institution.

As he told the bench that there a large number of areas, counsel Prashant Bhushan said that all the amendments are of “technical nature”.

Appearing for the society Common Cause, Bhushan said that the nature of amendment was not such that without them, the working of the Lokpal would be impeded.

He told the bench that the question of treating the leader of the largest opposition party as the leader of opposition has been settled under the anti-defection law, under which the Speaker would recognise the every group of lawmakers as a parliamentary party.

Bhushan said that it was only the first Speaker of Lok Sabha who had issued a directive saying that a group of lawmakers would be treated as a parliamentary party only if they constituted 10 per cent of the total strength of the house, and there was no law making it mandatory.

Senior counsel Shanti Bhushan told the court to direct the government to hold the meeting the meeting comprising the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition, and Chief Justice of India for selection an eminent jurist to be on the selection panel of Lokpal. He said that government was doing everything to frustrate the law.

Counsel Gopal Shankarnarayan told the court that it was a practice with the government to raise technical issues or proposed amendments to impede the law.

The top court had on November 23 hauled up the government for not amending the Lokpal Act to recognise the leader of the single largest opposition party in Parliament as the leader of the opposition for constituting the Selection Committee for Lokpal.

“For last two and a half years there is no leader of opposition. This position is likely to continue for next two and a half years. There would be no leader of opposition. Will you allow the law to become redundant just because there is no leader of opposition?” it had said.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, that was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 18, 2014, was referred to the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice on December 22, 2014 and it submitted its report on December 7, 2015.

The Bill amends the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, by which the Central Bureau of Investigation was established.

–IANS

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