Former Supreme Court judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose is set to be India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman, the Lokpal. A high-level selection committee, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared Ghose’s name as the SC set February-end as the deadline to fill the vacancy.
Ghose has served as a judge in the Calcutta High Court and went on to become Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh before his elevation to the Supreme Court in 2013. He currently is a member of the National Human Rights Commission.
The Lokpal act was passed in the Parliament in 2013 following the nation-wide protest against several alleged corruption involving high-level offices. The Opposition leader, Lok Sabha Speaker, Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist are the members of the selection committee. Congress’ leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had earlier denied for the seventh time the invitation to attend meetings as a “special invitee”. No party had the minimum number of seats in Lok Sabha to select an Opposition leader after the 2014 general elections. Kharge told the government that the Lokpal act does not provide an option for “special invitee” to participate in the meeting. He asked for an amendment in the act to include “the leader of the main opposition party in the Lok Sabha” in the selection panel. The government did not respond to it positively.
Irked by the government’s inaction in appointing the Lokpal after 5 years of passing the law, Supreme Court in January set February -end as the deadline.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, ’eminent jurist’ Mukul Rohatgi are the other members of the selection panel which had no representation from the Opposition block.