NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday called unsatisfactory a report filed by the Central government after the July 19 meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee, which comprised the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
Justice Ranjan Gogoi told Attorney General K K Venugopal that the affidavit filed by the Centre was unsatisfactory and that it has again refrained from giving a timeline on the appointment of the Lokpal.
Centre, in its affidavit, stated that the meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CJI Dipak Misra, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and jurist Mukul Rohatgi to constitute the search committee, which will then shortlist names for Lokpal and other members and then recommend them to the selection committee for final approval.
Last week, the court had expressed its optimism that the search committee will be constituted in the meeting and a time frame will be also be laid down for shortlisting of the names. On the contrary, the affidavit filed on Tuesday revealed that on July 19, only a decision was taken that the members of the selection committee will recommend the names as to who should constitute the committee. Not only the search committee was not formed, there was no time frame given as to by when the recommendations have to be made and when will the committee be set up and did not disclose as by when the next meeting would take place.
This led advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was appearing for the PIL petitioner, say the government had been dragging its feet for more than four years and the court should exercise its authority to appoint the Lokpal and fulfil the statutory requirement. The court asked the government to file a fresh affidavit on four weeks, specifying a time frame within which each step in the process of Lokpal's appointment can be completed. The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by an NGO which has raised the issue of non-appointment of Lokpal despite the apex court's judgment of last year.
The apex court, in its last year's verdict, had said there was no justification to keep the enforcement of Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments, including on the issue of the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, were cleared by Parliament.