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Complete task by Feb 28, SC to Lokpal search panel

January 18, 2019 06:00 AM


Complete task by Feb 28, SC to Lokpal search panel
Don’t Always Look At Things In A Negative Way, Bhushan Told

New Delhi:

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday asked activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan to not look at things always in a negative way. “Look at them positively. The world will feel a much better place,” he said.

Finding that there was a long delay in finalisation of a panel of names for Lokpal by the search committee headed by former SC judge Ranjana P Desai, a bench of Justices Gogoi, L N Rao and Sanjay K Kaul requested the committee to complete the task by February 28. Once the panel of names is drawn up, it will go to the selection committee comprising the PM, the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and the CJI or his nominee SC judge.

Appearing for petitioner NGO ‘Common Cause’, Bhushan apprehended lack of transparency in empanelling of names and wanted the court to direct the committee to post every decision taken by it, including the names being empanelled, on a website to facilitate people to raise objections to any name.

CJI Gogoi allayed the apprehensions and said, “We would rather trust the decision of the retired Supreme Court judge-headed committee, which also includes eminent persons like former solicitor general Ranjit Kumar.” But Bhushan was not convinced. He said transparency demanded that the procedure drawn up by the search committee itself should be made public along with how it was empanelling names.

The bench told Bhushan that it has fixed March 7 for further hearing on the NGO’s petition seeking contempt proceedings against the Union government for delaying appointment of Lokpal. “On March 7, the committee will give us the names of persons included in the panel. We will give it to you on that day.”

When Bhushan asked whether the criteria for finalising the panel be not laid down by the SC, the CJI said, “Do not always look at things in a negative way. Look at them positively. The world will feel a much better place.” Bhushan replied, “I agree.” The CJI added, “If you agree, start trying from tomorrow.”

Apparently taking a broader view of Bhushan’s activities in court and on social media, the CJI said, “You appear to know everything that is happening in the country. As judges, we don’t even know basic and small things.”

Attorney general K K Venugopal admitted that proper office space and staff had not been provided to the search committee, hindering progress in empanelling names for Lokpal.

Though the search committee was set up on September 27 last year, it could hold only a few meetings, he said, adding that the staff of the Advance Ruling Committee headed by Justice Desai was being utilised by the search committee.

The SC directed the Union government to provide necessary office space, infrastructure and staff to the search committee.


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