New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Lokpal search committee headed by former top court Judge Ranjana Prakash Desai to complete its deliberations for shortlisting the candidates for the appointment of Lokpal by February-end.
The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul gave search committee time till February 28 to complete the exercise of shortlisting the candidates.
The court also directed the Centre to provide infrastructure facilities to the search committee, including office space and manpower to begin its work.
The list of the shortlisted candidates would be submitted to the selection panel headed by the Prime Minister with the leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India as its other members.
The selection committee would pick one of the shortlisted candidates for appointment as Lokpal.
Besides Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, who is chairing the search committee, other member members are Justice Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, Ranjit Kumar, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Dr Lalit K. Panwar, Shabbirhusein S. Khandwawala, A. Surya Prakash and Dr. A.S. Kiran Kumar.
The court took exception to the eight-member search committee headed by Justice Desai meeting just a day before the hearing of the matter by the top court.
Noting that the search committee was constituted in September 27, 2018, but had its first meeting on January 16, CJI Gogoi asked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal “Why does everything happen when the court is to hear the matter?”
“They (search committee) had a problem. They have no office premises and no secretariat. Budget had to be sanctioned”, said Attorney General K.K. Venugopal responding to a poser from the bench.
He said now the funds are available for the current financial year.
In another poser from the bench whether search committee has been given any time to complete its work, the Attorney General said the search committee has said that unless they have premises, they can’t go ahead with their task.
The court today asked the counsel Prashant Bhushan not to look at the things “negatively” to make the world a better place to live in.
The court’s counsel to Bhushan came as he urged the court to direct the search committee to make public the names of the shortlisted candidates so that people can know about them.
He said there has to be criteria for shortlisting the candidates describing it as “minimum” requirement transparency in the process.
“We hope they will give us the (shortlisted) names by March 7 and the moment they give us the names, we will give it to you”, Chief Justice Gogoi said.