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How will you appoint Lokpal in absence of LoP, Supreme Court asks Centre

Saturday, 23 August 2014 - 7:12am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

With Lok Sabha speaker's decision rejecting the Leader of Opposition (LoP) status to Congress, the impasse is not yet over. The Supreme Court on Friday stepped in and sought Central government's explanation as to how the appointments for some statutory bodies including Lokpal will be done in the absence of LoP. "We will grant you four weeks time and you tell us that who will be in the place of LoP or we will interpret the term under the law," the bench headed by Chief Justice of India RM Lodha said.

"The leader of opposition is quite significant. LoP is the voice representing views different from government in the House. LoP is a very important component for selection of Lokpal (under the Lokpal Act) and the issue needs objective consideration in view of current political dispensation," said Justice Lodha.

The court was hearing a PIL, filed by NGO Common Cause through its counsel Prashant Bhushan, seeking transparency in the appointment of Lokpal by the selection committee.

The bench, also comprising justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman, said since the Lokpal selection panel envisages LoP as one of the five members, "the very composition of selection committee and those statutory provisions will remain ineffective in the absence of LoP."

"The Act cannot remain in cold storage...will you amend the law? Or some interpretation is needed on the issue," it said and questioned whether the leader of largest opposition party can be granted the status of LoP for the purpose of the Act.

Appearing for Centre, Attorney General cites instances earlier when there was no LoP the House and said ,"I am personally looking into the issue but can not make any statement at this stage that what the government is going to do with the Act. The law may be amended..."

To this, the court said "We don't want this exercise to be prolonged. This needs to be fast tracked. Efforts should be made to expedite..Even the Parliament never thought of such a situation like this."

Petitioner NGO's counsel Bhushan told the court that once the court interprets the definition of LoP, then it will solve the problems in the appointment under other statutes.

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