Mallikarjun Kharge Refuses to Attend Lokpal Selection Panel Meeting

Mallikarjun Kharge

Guwahati: The Narendra Modi government has been accused by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge using his refusal to attend the Lokpal selection panel meeting as an excuse for not appointing the country’s first ombudsman.

Kharge has been invited by the government to attend the selection panel meeting as special invitee but he has refused to attend the meeting and hits out at the Modi Government for not amending the law to facilitate the participation of the opposition in the Lokpal’s selection process.

Kharge said that it was since 2014 that the government has not made any attempt to amend the relevant provisions of the Lokpal Act to include the leader of the single largest party in the opposition to be a member of the selection committee.

Former Supreme Court Judge Ranjana Prakash Desai who led the Lokpal Search Committee has forwarded three panels of names for chairperson, judicial members and non-judicial members to the Lokpal selection committee. The Lokpal Search Committee was formed by the government last year.

Meanwhile, the meeting of the committee was scheduled later in the day.

Kharge also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi where he referred to the meetings of the search committee and previous meetings of the Lokpal selection panel alleging that the intention of the government was only to exclude the opposition from this crucial process.

Kharge further stated that a Special Invitee would not have any rights of participation in the process of selection of the Lokpal and that he cannot accept the opposition being made voiceless in a critical manner.

Kharge had written the letter to the Prime Minister for the seventh time since February 28 last year.

The Lokpal Act was passed in 2013 by the Parliament when the Congress-led UPA government was in power. The law provides for a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states to probe the cases of corruption against public servants.

The Lokpal selection committee comprises of the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, Leader of the Opposition and an eminent jurist.

The government has invited Kharge to the meetings of the selection panel as a special invitee as there is no designated leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha currently.