The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the centre’s search committee for a Lokpal to finalize the names for appointment by the end of February, while hearing a 2014 contempt petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan-led Common Cause challenging the constitutionality of the search committee rules.
Attorney general K.K. Venugopal had on 4 January told the court that many steps had been taken since September to set up the Lokpal.
In September, the centre constituted an eight-member search committee led by former Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, to recommend names for the positions of chairperson and members of the anti-corruption body.
The search committee also includes former State Bank of India chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, Prasar Bharati chairperson A. Surya Prakash, former Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) chairperson A.S. Kiran Kumar, former Allahabad high court judge Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, and former solicitor general Ranjit Kumar.
The apex court has repeatedly hauled up the government for failing to appoint a Lokpal. The centre has argued that in the absence of a leader of opposition in Parliament, the selection committee could not be constituted.
It would be required under the set procedure, given that the largest opposition party, the Congress, which has only 44 members in the Lok Sabha, lacks the requisite 10% of 545 seats needed for appointment of a leader of opposition.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013 to constitute a statutory body to inquire into allegations of corruption against public persons.
The matter will be heard next on 7 March.