Over four years after the Parliament passed the Lokpal Act, the Centre on Thursday set up an eight-member search committee that will recommend names of potential members of the anti-corruption institution.
Former Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai will lead the search panel, which will also comprise former State Bank of India chief Arundhati Bhattacharya and Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash. Indian Space Research Organisation head AS Kiran Kumar, former Allahabad High Court judge Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, former Gujarat Police chief Shabbirhusein S Khandwawala, retired bureaucrat Lalit K Panwar and former Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar are the other members of the panel. The committee will recommend the chairperson and members of the Lokpal.
The government named the members even though Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge repeatedly boycotted the meeting of the panel that was tasked with setting it up. Kharge boycotted the meeting six times this year, saying he was only a “special invitee” and not a full-fledged member of the panel.
Based on the Lokpal law passed in 2013, the selection committee is chaired by the prime minister and comprises the chief justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the Opposition and an eminent jurist. However, the current Lok Sabha does not have a leader of the Opposition as no party but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had more than 10% of the strength of the House. The Congress, the second largest party in the House, is led by Kharge in the Lok Sabha.
In the past, Kharge has urged the government to amend the law to include the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha in the selection committee.