Supreme Court hauls up government for not appointing Lokpal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday 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 last two and a half year there is no leader of opposition. This position is likely to continue for next two-and-a-half years. There would be no leader in opposition. Will you allow the law to become redundant just because there is no leader of opposition?” asked the bench of Chief Justice T.S Thakur, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao.

Noting the manner government was dragging its feet in amending the Lokpal law for recognising the leader of the largest opposition group as the leader of opposition for constituting a Search Committee, the bench said: “This is an institution intended to bring probity in public life, then this institution must work. We will not allow the situation where the institution is rendered redundant.”

As Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi resisted suggestion from senior counsel Shanti Bhushan telling the court that the matter could not be left to the political parties and the court should step in, Chief Justice Thakur said: “The law was notified in January 2014 and now we will be in January 2017.”

He told the government: “What you are doing in other enactments, you are not doing in it (Lokpal).”

Shanti Bhushan appeared for the the petitioner NGO Common Cause that has challenged the Rules for setting up the Lokpal Search Committee.

Attorney General Rohatgi opposed the suggestion by Bhushan that the judiciary should pass a direction to Parliament to pass the amendment saying it would amount to judicial legislation.

“We have introduced the amendment to the Lokpal Act. Judiciary can’t direct Parliament. It would amount to judicial legislation,” he said.

At this Chief Justice Thakur said: “You are committed to Lokpal and you also say that the leader of the single largest party should be recognised as leader of opposition. You should welcome any judgment by the court saying the leader of the single largest party would be treated as the leader of the opposition (for the purpose of the Lokpal Act).”

As Attorney General showed his reluctance to accept the suggestion, the bench said: “It would mean court can’t give any direction, you will not legislate, how can it be done Mr AG?”

The court pulled up the government in the course of hearing of a petition by Common Cause challenging the Lokpal Search Committee Rules coming in the way of setting up a committee for the last two years.

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