Former Supreme Court judge Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar
Former Supreme Court judge Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar(File photo)

Justice Khanwilkar is new Lokpal, Law Commission chief among members

President Droupadi Murmu also named six others as members of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

NEW DELHI: Former Supreme Court judge Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar was on Tuesday appointed the chairperson of Lokpal, almost two years after the position fell vacant. The Lokpal has been functioning without its regular chief after Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose completed his term on May 27, 2022.

President Droupadi Murmu also named six others as members of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court Lingappa Narayana Swamy, former chief justice of Karnataka High Court and the current chairperson of the Law Commission of India Ritu Raj Awasthi, and former Allahabad High Court chief justice Sanjay Yadav are the new judicial members of Lokpal.

Former Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, former Gujarat chief secretary Pankaj Kumar, and former secretary, Department of Land Resources Ajay Tirkey are the new non-judicial members.

The appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices, according to a Rashtrapati Bhavan communication.

Justice Khanwilkar retired from the Supreme Court in July 2022. He was part of several important verdicts including decriminalisation of homosexuality, women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple, validity of Aadhaar etc.

He also led the bench which upheld the exoneration of Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots case, and upheld the validity of the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and FCRA amendments.

The Lokpal is a powerful institution that has jurisdiction over central government to inquire into allegations of corruption against its public functionaries including the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, and Group A officials of the central government.

It is the President who appoints the chairperson and members of the Lokpal based on the recommendations of a selection committee headed by the prime minister.

The latest appointments are significant as they come ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections.

With Ritu Raj Awasthi’s appointment to the Lokpal, the government will now have to look for a new chairperson for the Law Commission, which advises the government on legal reforms. The Law Commission is currently examining the possibility of conducting simultaneous polls and introducing the Uniform Civil Code in the country.

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