The confrontation between the judiciary and the executive escalated on Wednesday on the issue of implementing the Lokpal Act. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi tried unsuccessfully to wriggle out of the issue and tried to save the government through a variety of arguments but he came a cropper as the facts of the case was overwhelmingly against the executive.
Maintaining that it would not let Lokpal become “a dead letter” or “redundant”, a Supreme Court headed by CJ T S Thakur asked the Central government why it has not appointed the anti-corruption ombudsman in the last two years if it was really concerned about checking corruption and bringing probity in public life.
The bench observed that the law to have Lokpal was passed after a prolonged struggle by civil society and it must become functional regardless whether the incumbent government wants it or not.
Under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, notified in 2014, the selection of Lokpal is to be conducted by a committee comprising the PM, Lok Sabha speaker, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, CJI or a SC judge, nominated by him and an eminent jurist.
The government’s argument that there is no leader of opposition in Parliament has become untenable in view of amendments of similar provisions in regard of selection of Chief Vigilance Commissioner, CBI chief and Chief Information Commissioner.