The Centre is likely to go ahead with the appointment of the chairperson and members of Lokpal without Leader of Opposition as member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee.
The rules for Lokpal search committee are being modified and a meeting of selection committee will be held soon to finalise its composition, official sources said.
Once the search panel is formed and its recommendations are received by the selection committee, it will proceed with the appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal, the sources said.
According to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, “No appointment of a chairperson or a member shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy in the selection committee.”
The selection committee, led by Mr. Modi, has as its members the Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in the Lower House, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.
The process of appointment of search committee members is underway, the sources said.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is yet to take a decision on the issue of Leader of Opposition in the lower house.
Congress with 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha has emerged as the second largest party after BJP’s 282 but fell short by 11 to stake claim for Leader of Opposition (LoP) for which it requires a strength of 55.
As per Direction 121 of the ‘Directions of the Speaker’, the Speaker should ensure that a Parliamentary party or group should have at least one-tenth of the total number of members of the Lok Sabha for being eligible for getting the LoP post.
Simultaneously, the government is likely to proceed with the appointment of next Central Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioner in Central Vigilance Commission without the LoP, the sources said.
The CVC Pradeep Kumar and Vigilance Commissioner J.M. Garg are due to retire in September this year.
Central Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioner are to be appointed by the President on the basis of recommendation from a three-member committee consisting Prime Minister as chairperson and Minister of Home Affairs and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha as members, as per the CVC Act, 2003.
“No appointment of a Central Vigilance Commissioner or a Vigilance Commissioner shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy in the committee,” the Act says.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, which had got assent from President Pranab Mukherjee on January 1 this year, provides for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries.
The UPA government had in February this year hurriedly formed an eight-member search committee comprising Justice (retd) K.T. Thomas (as chairperson) and seven other members.
The members included Kaki Madhava Rao (former IAS officer), F.S. Nariman (legal luminary), Prof Meenakshi Gopinath (educationist), M.L. Kumawat (former Director General of Border Security Force), H.K. Dua (senior journalist and Rajya Sabha member), S.Y. Quraishi (former Chief Election Commissioner) and Prof Mrinal Miri (Rajya Sabha member).
But both Mr. Thomas and Mr. Nariman had refused to be part of the search panel.