The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has been appointed to the Lokpal Selection Committee as an eminent jurist.
Rohatgi served as India’s 14th Attorney General from June 2014 to June 2017.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi was told that Rohatgi was selected by a committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra at their April 10 meeting.
That meeting was not attended by Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge as he was called not as a member of the selection panel but as a special invitee.
Kharge stayed away from the March 1 meeting of the selection panel on the same grounds.
Justice Gogoi said that it was expected that eminent persons on the selection committee will be alive to the urgency to appoint the Lokpal.
However, the apex court refused to give directions on the time frame for the appointment of the Lokpal which, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said, would take some time.
Venugopal had during a hearing on April 17 told the court that the Selection Committee’s meeting on April 10 recommendations for appointment of an eminent jurist on the panel had been made and approval of the said recommendation was pending.
Reacting to Rohatgi’s appointment as eminent jurist on the Selection Committee, lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted: “Today, the government informed the Supreme Court it has made progress on the appointment of Lokpal. After four years, the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and the Lok Sabha Speaker have selected former AG of Modi government and counsel for Amit Shah and assorted criminals as ‘eminent jurist’ on the Lokpal Selection Committee! However Lokpal would take ‘considerable time’.”
The selection panel will now constitute a seven-member Search Committee for preparing a list of persons to be considered for appointment as Chairman and members of Lokpal.
The apex court is hearing a contempt plea by NGO Common Cause after the government did not act on the court’s April 27, 2017 judgment which held that the “(Lokpal) Act, as it stands today, is an eminently workable piece of legislation and there is no justification to keep the enforcement of the Act under suspension till the amendments, as proposed, are carried out”.