Lokpal row: SC asks Centre not allow law to be 'dead letter'

The apex court said that the Lokpal law cannot be made redundant just because the legislation was not amended.

Published: 23rd November 2016 08:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th April 2017 04:49 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court | File Photo PTI

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Centre that there is no justification to keep the enforcement of Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments, including on the issue of the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha.

As per the Act, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha will be part of the Lokpal selection panel. At present, there is no Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

In the 16th Lok Sabha, the Congress party could not get the required 10 per cent membership post-2014 elections which resulted in it not having a recognised LoP and this had stalled the implementation of the Lokpal Act.

“The amendments proposed to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013, and the views of the Parliamentary Standing Committee were attempts at streamlining the working of the Act and does not constitute legal hindrances or bars its enforcement as it stands today,” a Bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha said.

Allowing a batch of petitions filed by NGO Common Cause and others, the Bench said such attempts for amendment cannot halt the operation and execution of the law which the executive in its wisdom has already given effect to and has brought into force by resorting to the provisions of the Act.

“We, therefore, conclude by quoting Justice Krishna Iyer in reference, the Special Courts Bill, 1978, and holding that the Act as it stands today is an eminently workable piece of legislation and there is no justification to keep the enforcement of the Act under suspension till the amendments, as proposed, are carried out,” the Bench said.

NGO Common Cause had argued that though the Lokpal Bill was passed by Parliament in 2013 and came into effect in 2014, the Lokpal was not being appointed by the government deliberately.

The Bench said that section 4(2) of the Act makes it clear that the appointment of the chairperson or a member of the Lokpal will not become invalid merely because of the reason of any vacancy in the selection committee.

“If, at present, the LoP is not available, surely, the chairperson and the other two members of the Selection Committee, namely, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or his nominee may proceed to appoint an eminent jurist as a member of the Selection Committee under Section 4(1)(e) of the Act,” the Bench said.

The Bench also took caution and said, “A perception, however, strong of the imminent need of the law en-grafted in the Act and its beneficial effects on the citizenry of a democratic country, by itself, will not permit the court to overstep its jurisdiction. Judicial discipline must caution the court against such an approach.”    

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