Leader of Opposition Current Affairs - 2020

SC verdict on reinstating CBI chief Alok Kumar Verma: Key Facts

The Supreme Court of India has reinstated CBI director Alok Kumar Verma, setting aside the Centre’s order to divest him of his powers. The Supreme Court has restrained him from taking any major policy decision till the CVC probe into corruption charges against him is over.

Observations made by the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has further asked the high-powered committee which selects and appoints the CBI director to take any further decisions once the CVC submits its report after the probe.

The selection committee of the CBI director comprises the Prime Minister, the leader of opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

There is no provision in the law which permits the government to divest the CBI director of his powers and functions without prior consent from the high powered select committee.

Supreme Court cited the Vineet Narain verdict of 1997 where the Supreme Court underlined the fact that the tenure of the CBI director had been fixed to two years after the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act.

Vineet Narain verdict of 1997

The Supreme Court had delivered a landmark verdict in the case of Vineet Narain vs Union of India case, popularly known as the Jain hawala case. The Supreme Court in its verdict had pronounced measures to shield the CBI director from outside interference and make the director’s post more transparent. The measures are:

  • The CBI director shall have a minimum tenure of two years, regardless of the date of his superannuation.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) shall be responsible for the efficient functioning of CBI.
  • The transfer of an incumbent Director, CBI in an extraordinary situation, including the need for him to take up a more important assignment, should have the approval of the selection committee.

The Supreme Court had laid down these measures recognising the need to provide permanent insulation to agencies such as CBI against extraneous influences to enable them to discharge their duties in the manner required for proper implementation of the rule of law.

What is the buzz about Leader of Opposition?

Opposition is an essential organ of the democratic setup as it is said to keep suitable checks on the governmental policies and directions. The person who heads the party who is next in majority to the ruling party technically gets the post of Leader of Opposition. The party is apparently in a minority and may not have a significant role in decision-making of the government which is having clear numerical majority but the LoP is a member of significant Parliamentary committees. Being an elected post, he makes the government working better by giving timely and effective criticism. It is one of the foremost duties of the opposition to oppose any defective policies and administration. Also, bring to light any corruption happening in the government machinery. Where the Opposition should not indulge in putting party spirit above the parliamentary spirit and indulge in unwanted disruptions of the proceedings of the House, the government is also expected to respect and allow the opinion of opposition from being properly fielded and considered. LoP has got statutory recognition.

The Current Deadlock

In the recent deadlock between BJP and Congress over the position of LoP, wherein both the parties have put forth concrete points to support their viewpoint. Taking view of the situation, SC has asked the government to clarify its position on how it will go ahead with critical appointments which require opinion of Leader of Opposition in face of this recent vacuum created by the latter’s non-appointment and hence the vacancy. The posts of Lokpal and Central Information Commissioner both require consideration by the Leader of Opposition for their selection.
CIC is an important post and has never been left vacant ever since its inception in the first decade of this millennium. Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha has asked the Centre to give its statement explaining the solution without further delay as Lokpal is a strong institution to defend the mounting corruption in public offices. A bench comprising Lodha, Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman have assigned September 9, 2014, for final hearing, when the central government will present its case.

It is apparent that both the parties in question are trying to gain greater political edge out of the situation and dragging the issue to unwarranted proportions.