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WP No 245/2014
Challenging the Lokpal Search Committee Rules
The process of initial constitution of the Lokpal had become mired in controversy, which could have been avoided had the Union Government framed the rules to give effect to the long awaited Lokpal Act with sincerity and honesty of purpose. The rules notified on January 17, 2014 have undermined the independence of the institution of Lokpal by restricting the field of selection to the hand-picked nominees of the Government and giving undue advantage to senior bureaucrats, most of whom are likely to be members of the IAS, in appointment as non judicial members of Lokpal. This is a blatant abuse of the device of delegated legislation. Since Common Cause, which has been fighting for the establishment of an independent and effective Lokpal since 1995, could not allow the institution to be crippled during its gestation, a PIL challenging the arbitrary Search Committee rules was filed in the Supreme Court on March 5, 2014.
Subsequently, we filed an IA to foil the outgoing government’s last ditch bid to convene a meeting of the Selection Committee in order to pack the Lokpal with its nominees. The government had to give an undertaking that it would proceed with the appointments only after amending the impugned rules.
At the hearing on August 22, 2014, the CJI’s Bench pulled up the government for delaying the process of constituting the Lokpal. The government notified the amended Lokpal search committee Rules on August 27, 2014. The amended rules provide that the search committee may, for the purpose of short-listing of persons, adopt such short-listing norms as it may consider appropriate. The words, 'from amongst the list of persons provided by the Central government in the Department of Personnel and Training’, have been omitted. Thus, one of the two reliefs sought in our PIL has already been secured.