The Supreme Court today came down hard at the Centre for holding back the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013 until the proposed amendments are effected.
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha noted that the ‘Lokpal today is workable’ and there is ‘no justification to hold it back’.
"We are holding that it is a workable piece of legislation and it is not justifiable to keep this pending," the court said.
The apex court also dismissed another plea seeking privacy of the Chief Justice of India in the selection of the Lokpal.
The top court's verdict put the ball in the government's court which was holding back the enforcement of the law on grounds that there were several amendments to be made in the Lokpal Act’s existing form.
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.
The apex court had on March 28 reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking the appointment of Lokpal and Lokayukta in the country.
Earlier, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, had said that even though the Lokpal Bill was passed by Parliament in 2013 and came into effect in 2014, the Lokpal is not being appointed by the government ‘deliberately’.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had said that the Lokpal cannot be appointed in the current scenario as amendments regarding the definition of the Leader of the Opposition in the Lokpal Act was pending in the Parliament.
The apex court had on November 23 last year pulled up the Centre over the delay in appointment of Lokpal, saying it should not allow the law to become a ‘dead letter’.
In the Lok Sabha, the largest opposition party Congress has only 45 members and lacks the requisite 10 per cent of total 545 seats, giving rise to the requirement to amend the present Lokpal Act.
The plea by NGO Common Cause had sought a direction to the Centre to make the appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal as per the amended rules framed under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
The NGO, in its plea filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, had also sought a direction to the Centre to ensure that the procedure for selecting the chairperson and members of Lokpal must be transparent as envisaged under the Act.
With PTI Inputs