Sunday, March 17, 2019

Ex-Top Court Judge Justice PC Ghose Set To Be First Lokpal

Retired Supreme Court judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose is likely to be the country's first Lokpal, or the anti-corruption ombudsman, sources said today. The other members of the Lokpal would include four former High Court judges, including a woman judge, and four former civil servants, the sources added. The selection was made weeks after the February-end deadline set by the Supreme Court.
Justice Ghose's name was finalised and recommended by the Selection Committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi a couple of days ago.
Passed in 2013, the Lokpal Act involves the setting up of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to look into cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants.
The panel to choose the candidates -- headed by the prime minister -- includes the Lok Sabha speaker, leader of the opposition in the lower house, the Chief Justice of India or any judge of the Supreme court he nominates, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member. President Ram Nath Kovind nominated Mukul Rohatgi, a former Attorney General, as the ''eminent jurist''.
But the selection committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had been hobbled by the absence of senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. Mr Kharge had refused to attend the meetings after he was designated a "special invitee" saying it does not allow him  to participate in the selection process.
He had skipped the last week meeting as well.
The selection committee is expected to include the Leader of the Opposition. In absence of the post following the Congress's poor show in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, rules for the appointment of the CBI chief have been amended to include the Leader of the Largest Opposition Party.
Mr Kharge alleged that the government has been using his refusal to attend the selection committee meetings as an excuse for not appointing a Lokpal over the last five years.
Puducherry Governor Kiran Bedi tweeted: "Exceedingly happy to see the announcement of LOKPAL. It shall strengthen all anti-corruption systems in the country and give a big boost to vigilance work at all levels. Thank #AnnaHazare for having led and persevered for this cause. Jai Hind."
Justice Ghose was appointed as the judge of the Calcutta High Court in 1997 and elevated to the Supreme Court in 2013.
As the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, he had convicted Sasikala, the live-in companion of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, in a corruption case.

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