SC pulls up govt for delay in appointment of Lokpal
The Supreme Court hauled up the government on Wednesday for delay in appointing the country’s first anti-corruption ombudsman, asking why it was dragging its feet if it was “so committed to cleansing corruption.”
Parliament approved a law to create an independent anticorruption agency in 2013 after a delay of almost 50 years, but the hiring of a federal-level ombudsman, or ‘Lokpal’, to run it has been stuck on the question of who should be on the appointment panel.
“Don’t allow Lokpal to become a dead letter,” a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur told the government’s top prosecutor attorney general MuKul Rohatgi.
“When you say the government is committed to cleansing corruption, then this (Lokpal) is the step in the right direction. Why should there be a feeling government is dragging the feet?”
The court’s rebuke could be seen as embarrassing for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has made fighting corruption a corner stone of his policy goals and, as part of which, abolished two high-value banknotes this month.
The top court warned that it might pass an order if Parliament does not legislate quickly to enable the appointment of the watchdog, which is expected to prevent corruption in high places.
The hiring of the Lokpal is held up on a technicality.