The Centre has notified amended Lok Pal search committee rules. The new rules allow the search committee to recommend names for chairperson and members of the anti-corruption ombudsman outside the list provided by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
The Centre has also reduced the number of search panel members from eight to seven. Sources said the government will soon start the process of appointing Lok Pal chairperson and members. Old rules, put in place during the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, mandated the search committee to prepare a list of persons to be considered for chairperson and members of the Lok Pal only from among the DoPT list.
The committee comprises the prime minister, leader of opposition in the Lower House, 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 or any other member.
“The search committee may, for the purpose of short-listing of persons, adopt such short-listing norms as it may consider appropriate,” says DoPT’s notified rules.
“The words ‘from amongst the list of persons’ provided by the central government in the DoPT shall be omitted,” the new rules said.
The search committee will now consist of seven, instead of earlier eight, members. These will be eminent people with domain knowledge of anti-corruption, public administration and vigilance among others, the rules said.
The government has also done away with the deadline of 30 days given to the search committee for recommending the names, after receiving the list from the DoPT.
The search committee will have to give the list of names who could be considered for chairperson and members of the Lok Pal “within such period as may be decided by the selection committee”.
The search panel shall, as far as possible, in case of members recommend a panel containing names at least three times the number of vacancies to be filled, the new rules said. Earlier, the committee was to recommend a panel containing at least three times the number of vacancies advertised.
The panel is mandated to recommend at least five names for the post of Lok Pal chairperson.
The rules were notified following a recommendation by a committee headed by Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi.
The UPA government could not go ahead with the appointment of chairperson and members of Lok Pal due to the then opposition BJP’s objection to the selection procedure.
The Lok Pal and Lokayuktas Act provides for establishment of a Lok Pal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries.