New Delhi: Five years after the Lokpal Act was notified on January 16, 2014, former Supreme Court judge, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, is tipped to take over as the first Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman. His name was reportedly finalised a couple of days ago by the Selection Committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and eminent jurist Mukul Rohatgi.
However, there has been no official announcement of his appointment by the government. The Centre was under considerable pressure from the Apex Court to clear the appointment. On March 7, a Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi had asked the Narendra Modi government to inform the court within a fortnight by when it would finalise the names.
The selection committee is supposed to include the Leader of the Opposition as well. But senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had refused to attend the meetings after he was designated a “special invitee,” saying it does not allow him to participate in the selection process. He had skipped the last week meeting as well.
Kharge, in turn, had alleged that the government has been using his refusal to attend the selection committee meetings as an excuse for not appointing a Lokpal over the last five years. Justice Ghose, 67, who is a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) since June 2017, retired from the Supreme Court on May 27, 2017.
He was among the top 10 names shortlisted by the Lokpal Search Committee. In July 2015, a Supreme Court bench of Justice Ghose issued notice to late former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on a petition by the Karnataka government challenging the high court verdict acquitting her and three others in a disproportionate assets case.
He is a former judge of the Calcutta High Court and former Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Born in Kolkata, Justice Ghose is son of late Justice Sambhu Chandra Ghose, former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court.