Government seeks SC nod to tweak anti-graft Lokpal bill

The Indian government today told the Supreme Court that it wants to change some rules regarding the appointment of Lokpal members.

The government had in April told the apex court that it would not take any immediate decision on the appointment of the Lokpal, a central anti-corruption watchdog, before a new government is formed later this month.

The SC was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the selection process for the appointment of a Lokpal.

The personnel ministry had in January this year put out an advertisement in newspapers calling for applications from eligible candidates for a chairperson and eight Lokpal Members by 7 February. But leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley questioned its legality and asked the government to withdraw the ad.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rejected Jaitley's contention, saying that the advertisement was within the prescribed rules notified recently by the government.

Of the advertised posts for Lokpal members, four are for judicial and the remaining for non-judicial posts.

In the bill, the PM-led selection committee includes the Lok Sabha speaker, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, 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 of India or any of the members.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, provides for the establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries.

President Pranab Mukherjee had given his assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill on 1 January this year. The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 17 December 2013, and by the Lok Sabha the next day.