The recent Supreme Court verdict in a case related to the appointment of a Lokpal has revealed the Centre’s lack of sincerity in implementing the anti-corruption agency with immediate effect.
The court which said that the delay in the appointment couldn’t be accepted, also rejected the contentions of the Centre. Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha considering the plea filed by non-governmental organisations including ‘Common Cause’ against the delay, directed the government to appoint a Lokpal with immediate effect. The apex court that took the move towards a corruption-free governance brushing aside the impeding claims, also marred the machinations of the Modi regime. The Parliament enacted the law in 2013 approving the appointment of a Lokpal. However Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi claimed that there were drawbacks and loopholes in the law due to which it could not be implemented. He said that the twenty amendments recommended by the Parliament standing committee have to be passed and that it would take time. Considering all the aspects, the appointment can be made after bracing up the law, in the annual session of the Parliament. The Centre, had also claimed that the Supreme Court had no right to issue recommendations to the present government regarding the appointment of a Lokpal.
The court has but rejected all the contentions and given a positive hope to the nation regarding appointing an independent anti-corruption body. Those analyzing the Centre’s claims and the observations of the court would be able to comprehend the government’s conscious efforts to delay the appointment. The Centre defended its claims citing the Lokpal Act which says that the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha will be made a part of the Lokpal selection panel. There is no leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha at present. Amendment is required for the inclusion of the leader of the largest opposition party in the selection panel. It needs an adequate amount of time. The court dismissing these justifications, said that the appointment could be made without amending the existing Lokayukta Act (2013). There is a provision in the existing law for preventing the delay in the appointment citing the vacancy in the selection panel. The fact that amendments have been recommended isn’t a valid reason to not implement the existing law.
Also even the claims regarding the technical definition of the leader of Opposition are baseless. When the Lokayukta Act was passed in 2014, moves for amendment began the same year itself. However, no measures haven’t been taken so far. If the intention to appoint the leader of the largest Opposition party as the leader of Opposition was genuine, then why is the evident period of delay? In the case of other appointment committees such as the Chief Information Commissioner and CBI Director, similar law amendments have been accomplished by now. The time delay is occurring only in the case of appointing a Lokpal. The law experts present yet another argument. Requiring that for a person to be named as the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, his party should secure at least 10 per cent of the total seats, is a precedence and not a law. It is only a guideline issued when G V Mavalankar was the speaker. Given the facts, there was no technical issues to name the leader of Congress, the largest party, as the leader of Opposition. The Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977 have also clearly defined the leader of the Opposition, as the leader of the largest opposition party to the government. In short, citing that there is no leader of Opposition at present is an inane excuse. Good governance should not be limited to mere slogans. It requires sincerity and will power. It wouldn’t then impede the practical measures citing the term definition. Transparency in governance and the consciousness that the leaders are answerable to the people, are essential aspects of good governance. The Centre as well as the states are at present competing to dilute the Rights to Information Act instead of bolstering the law. The vigilance of the people and the judiciary’s monitoring is necessary for the preserving and maintaining the systems that cleanse governance. The firm stance of the apex court in the Lokpal case therefore signals hope.