SC asked the Centre to implement the Lokpal Act without any delay

SC asked the Centre to implement the Lokpal Act without any delay

The Supreme Court on Thursday said the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013 is a "workable piece of legislation" and it was not justifiable to keep its operation pending.

On Thusday, a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha noted that the "Lokpal today is workable" and there is "no justification to hold it back".

Dismissing the Centre's contention, the top court gave the Lokpal Committee the go ahead to appoint the rest of the members, including an eminent jurist, even if there was no Leader of Opposition (LOP).

On 23 November a year ago, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre over the delay in appointment of a Lokpal saying it should not allow the law to become a dead letter.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, passed by Parliament and notified on January 16, 2014, has been hanging fire as the Centre has refused to constitute the body on the ground that there was no LoP in the present Lok Sabha and several amendments proposed to the law are under Parliament's consideration.

The court had earlier criticised the government for "dragging its feet" on the appointment Lokpal to usher in probity in public life.

The bench didn't accept the Centre's argument that it wasn't possible to appoint a Lokpal without the LOP being there on the selection panel. A number that no opposition party presently has in in Lok Sabha.

The SC said efforts to amend the Act to include the leader of the largest Opposition party in the selection panel was at best an attempt to streamline the working of the Act. Such attempts can not halt the operation and execution of the law which the Executive in its wisdom has already given effect to and has brought into force the Act. It has indeed left no room for ambiguity by asserting that the appointment of a Lokpal and its members without including the LoP would be perfectly valid under the existing law.

Rohatgi had argued that the Selection Committee to select Lokpal comprised of five persons of which one is the Leader of Opposition. Given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team have been taking a spate of measures to enhance accountability and transparency in the functioning of public sector organisations, and the Government too, the speedy appointment of a Lokpal will fit into the scheme of things.

This was needed after the Congress failed to win enough seats in the 2014 national election to qualify for the post of Leader of Opposition.

The bench said the proposed amendment to Section 4 (3) of the Act would be clarificatory and will not amount to an attempt to cure a shortcoming in the Act which is proving to be an inhibition in law to the appointment of Chairperson or members of the Lokpal.

Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioner, had disagreed.

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