The Centre today agreed in the Supreme Court to re-examine the contentious issues on selection of Lokpal and said it was was ready to make final amendments in the rules before proceeding with the process.
"With regard to rule 10 clause (1) and 10 clause (4), Solicitor General (Mohan Parasaran) submits to re-examine the issue and make final amendments in the rules and then proceed further with the matter," a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said in the order. The bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, passed the order after taking the consent of the Solicitor General that it was taking on record his statement that "the selection process shall not commence on existing rules".
During the hearing, the bench observed that the matter like this, if stalled, will not be good. It also said that the government will have have to evolve procedure which is "transparent" and that the rules have to be in consonance with the statutory provisions. The bench noted that four months have already passed since the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in December 2013 and nothing has been done.
The Solicitor General assured the court that the government will amend the procedure and start the process of selection.
The bench also wanted to know from the Centre "how will you achieve the objective of transparency that is the question".
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, submitted that government cannot proceed on the basis of rule 10 clause (1) and 10 clause (4).
Rule 10 (1) provides that the Search Committee shall prepare a panel of persons to be considered by the Selection Committee for appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal, from among the list of persons provided by the central government, which, it has been argued, "directly runs counter to the very object of having an independent Lokpal and the provisions of the said Act".
Bhushan submitted that the names of persons shortlisted by the search committee be brought into public domain through the website a week before the selection. This is the basic minimum transparency which is required, he said. The bench also agreed that "they (government) have to evolve procedure which is transparent" and also concurred with the submission of Bhushan, before posting the matter for July 4.
The Centre had earlier informed the apex court that it will not take any immediate decision on the appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal, virtually indicating that the decision in this regard might be left to the new government after the general elections.