File affidavit on steps taken for appointment of Lokpal: Supreme Court to Government

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to place on affidavit steps taken till date for Lokpal’s appointment and expressed its displeasure over the tardy progress made in this regard. The apex court asked Attorney General K K Venugopal to file an affidavit by January 17, when the matter will be taken up again for hearing, explaining in detail the various steps, including the setting up of a search committee by the competent authority for recommending names for the appointment. The search committee will forward the names to the selection committee members comprising the prime minister, the leader of the single largest opposition party, the Lok Sabha speaker and an eminent jurist.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul said everything on the issue has to come on record through an affidavit. The attorney general had submitted that progress has been made since September last year over the appointment of Lokpal and wanted to place before the bench a prepared note. However, the bench declined to accept the note and said, “Bring everything on record what you have done since September 2018”. After making some oral remarks, the bench in its order said, “We request the attorney general to ensure that the steps taken till date are brought on record by means of an affidavit of the competent authority which shall be filed within two weeks from today. List the matter again on January 17.”

When the attorney general said that since the last order several steps have been taken, the bench asked him, “What all have you done till date. So much time is being taken”. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, Common Cause, which has been pursuing the issue of Lokpal, said the government has not even made public the members of the search committee on its website.

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, then chief justice of India 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.

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