The Selection Committee, comprising the prime minister, chief justice of India, Lok Sabha speaker and an eminent jurist, Former Supreme Court Judge P C Ghose is likely to be the India’s first Lokpal. His name was among names shortlisted by the Lokpal Search Committee, last evening. The government is likely to issue notification early next week for appointment of Justice Ghose.
Following a tenure of around four years, Justice Ghose retired from the Supreme Court in May 2017. He is presently a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The appointment has come through five years after the Lokpal Act was notified for effecting a panel of ombudsmen to look into cases of corruption and maladministration by public servants.
What makes the Lokpal powerful is the authority under the law to investigate complaints against current and former prime ministers, Union ministers, members of Parliament, government employees and employees of public sector undertakings, and key employees of non-governmental organisations receiving more than Rs 10 lakh a year in foreign contributions, among others.
The Lokpal has to work in tandem with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). It can direct any investigating agency, including the CBI, to look into allegations of graft under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The appointment of Justice Ghose, however, has to kick up a controversy with the process not having a voice of the opposition. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was called in as a special invitee to the selection committee meeting but he refused to attend. Kharge pointed that a special invitee would not have any rights to vote and that the opposition was being made “voiceless” in a critical matter.