Eminent jurist Current Affairs - 2019

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Former Supreme Court Judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose to be the First Lokpal

The name of former Supreme Court Judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose has been cleared by the Lokpal Selection Committee headed by the Prime Minister. The notification for the appointment is expected to be released soon. Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose would be the first Lokpal of India.

Salient features of the Lokpal Act 2013

  • The Lokpal Act provides for setting up of an anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State-level.
  • The Lokpal would consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members of which 50 per cent shall be judicial members.  50 per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
  • The ambit of Lokpal would cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister with the exception of armed forces.
  • The Lokpal Act mandated the states to institute Lokayukta within one year of the commencement of the Act.
  • Lokpal will also have powers of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the Lokpal.
  • Lokpal is appointed based on the recommendation of the five-member panel comprising the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist nominated by the President.
  • President would appoint the eminent jurist based on the recommendations of the other members of the panel.

The government has proposed an amendment to the Lokpal Act 2013 to enable the leader of the largest Opposition party to be the member of the selection panel in the absence of the leader of Opposition. To designate the leader as Leader of Opposition the largest opposition party must have a strength of at least 10% of the total members in the House and none of the parties managed to cross this mark in 2014 general elections.

Lokpal Search Committee holds its First Meeting

The Lokpal Search Committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai held its first meeting and discussed modalities related to the appointments of the chief and members of Lokpal.

The other members of the committee include former chief of State Bank of India (SBI) Arundhati Bhattacharya, Prasar Bharati chairperson Surya Prakash, former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) head A S Kiran Kumar, former Allahabad High Court judge Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, former Gujarat Police head Shabbirhusein S Khandwawala, retired IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre Lalit K Panwar and Ranjit Kumar

Supreme Court Sets a Deadline

The Supreme Court has set a February-end deadline for the search committee to send a panel of names who could be considered for the appointment as chairman and members of Lokpal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee.

Selection of Lokpal

The names proposed by the search committee would be scrutinised by the selection committee headed by Prime Minister and comprising of Speaker of Lok Sabha, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by CJI and an Eminent jurist to be nominated by President of India on basis of recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee through consensus.

Upon the recommendation of the selection committee, President has nominated Mukul Rohatgi, former Attorney General of India as ’eminent jurist’ member of the panel against the vacancy arising following the death of senior advocate P P Rao.