Top ministers in the Modi government, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today discussed issues related to operationalisation of proposed anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal. The meeting came after the Supreme Court said on Thursday that the Lokpal Act was a “workable piece of legislation” and that it was not justifiable to keep it pending.
The meeting, which was held at Singh’s North Block office, was also attended by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, official sources said.
“Some issues related to operationalisation of Lokpal were discussed during the meeting,” a source said.
The previous UPA government had introduced a bill in Parliament seeking setting up anti-graft body Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to look into cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants.
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The Centre is facing difficulty in choosing the chief and members of Lokpal due to absence of Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.
As per the Act, a selection committee headed by the prime minister chooses chairperson and members of the Lokpal.
The panel has as its members the Lok Sabha speaker, leader of the opposition in the lower chamber of Parliament, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the president or any other member.
At present, there is no leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.
The largest opposition party Congress has only 45 members in the Lok Sabha and lacks the requisite 10 per cent of total 545 seats for its leader to be designated as LoP.
The central government has been examining a report of a parliamentary committee suggesting certain changes in the Lokpal Act for over a year now.
The department-related parliamentary standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice had on December 7, 2015 tabled its report in both houses of parliament.
The panel had suggested nominating the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, in case there is no recognised leader of opposition, as member of the selection panel.
On April 27, the apex court had said the Act was an “eminently workable piece of legislation” and it “does not create any bar to the enforcement of the provisions”.