The UPA government has put on hold its move to appoint the first Lokpal, following allegations of a flawed selection procedure.

Highly placed government sources told The Hindu that the rules framed under the Lokpal Act would be amended appropriately to ensure that the selection was fair and there was no criticism from any quarter.

As the model code of conduct was in force, it would not be possible for the government to convene a meeting of the selection committee, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to enable Lokpal formation, the sources pointed out. Before deciding to put the selection process on hold, the government sought the views of a senior law officer, who said the rules should be amended properly and ratified in Parliament, something which can be done only by the new government.

In a writ petition, Common Cause, an NGO, had challenged in the Supreme Court the Lokpal selection procedure. The petition comes up for hearing on March 24. The government, the sources said, will spell out its stand on amending the rules and make it clear that it would not rush through the appointments.

Common Cause said: “The rule, in so far as it provides that the search committee shall prepare a panel of persons to be considered by the selection committee for appointment of the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal, from amongst the list of persons provided by the Central Government, directly runs counter to the very object of having an independent Lokpal and the provisions of the said Act.”

“Rules illegal”

The rules framed under the Lokpal Act “are illegal since the mandatory provision of Section 61, requiring that any rule or regulation framed under the Act be laid before each House of Parliament for a total period of 30 days, has not been complied with,” the NGO said.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley felt that the Lokpal Rules would deter deserving persons from coming forward to be appointed to the Lokpal. According to him, the process of appointment should be left to the new government.

Justice K.T. Thomas and senior advocate Fali Nariman opted out of the search committee, finding fault with the selection process.

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