The Centre on Wednesday initiated the process to fill the long-vacant posts of chairperson and members of anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal. The Ministry of Personnel said the search committee, set up by the Centre, held its first meeting on Tuesday.

The eight-member panel was set up almost four months ago to select members of the Lokpal. “A process in this regard has been initiated and an advertisement calling the applications from the eligible candidates is likely to be issued soon,” the ministry said in a statement.

The search committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, will meet within a fortnight to continue the process.

On January 17, the Supreme Court had asked the Lokpal search committee to recommend names for the office by the end of February. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the Centre to provide the search panel the infrastructure and manpower to help it complete its work.

In September, the Centre had named an eight-member search committee, led by Desai and also comprising former State Bank of India chief Arundhati Bhattacharya and Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash.

The Lokpal Act, passed in 2013, provides for an anti-corruption panel that will supervise cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants.

Earlier on Wednesday, social activist Anna Hazare launched a hunger strike over the delay in appointment of a Lokpal at the Centre and the passage of the Lokayukta Act in Maharashtra.