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India Gets its First Lokpal with Appointment of Justice PC Ghose as Chairman

President Ram Nath Kovind on 19th March 2019 appointed former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the country’s first Lokpal, the national anti-corruption ombudsman.

Former Chief Justices Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Abhilasha Kumari, Dilip B. Bhosale, besides sitting Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh high court Ajay Kumar Tripathi have been selected as the judicial members in the anti-corruption ombudsman, according to a communiqué issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In addition, former 1st woman chief of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) Archana Ramasundaram, former IRS officer Mahender Singh, Gujarat cadre ex-IAS officer Indrajeet Prasad Gautam and ex-Maharashtra chief secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain have been appointed as non-judicial members of the body, the communiqué said.

It mentioned that “The above appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices.” The appointments were recommended by a selection committee led-by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and approved by President Kovind.

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66 year old Justice Ghose retired as SC judge in May 2017. He is also a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) since June 29, 2017.

The much-awaited appointments that have been announced prior to the general polls may trigger a political argument as Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is a member of the Lokpal selection panel, had boycotted its latest meeting last week.

It must be noted that the Lokpal & Lokayukta Act, which envisages appointment of a Lokpal at the Centre & Lokayuktas in states to examine cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants, was passed in the year 2013.

The appointment of Lokpal comes a fortnight after the SC requested Attorney General K.K. Venugopal to organize a meeting of the Lokpal selection panel. A search committee headed by previous apex court Judge Ranjana Prakash Desai had suggested 3 panels of names to the selection board for appointment of chairman, judicial & non-judicial members in the anti-graft body.

Following the court’s proceedings, a conference of selection panel was held on15th March. The court on 17th January had fixed a February-end deadline for the Lokpal search committee to send a list of names who could be considered for the appointment as its chairperson and members.

As per the rules, there is condition for a chairperson and a maximum of 8 members in the Lokpal panel and of these, 4 have to be judicial members.

A senior government official giving details of the Lokpal members said that Justice Bhosale retired as the Chief Justice of Allahabad high court while Justice Mohanty retired as the Chief Justice of Jharkhand high court in 2017. And Justice Abhilasha Kumari served as the 1st woman Chief Justice of Manipur high court and is currently chairperson of Gujarat state human rights commission.

Regarding the non-judicial members, the official told Dinesh Kumar Jain, a 1983 batch IAS officer has retired as Maharashtra’s Chief Secretary in January 2019. Indrajeet Prasad Gautam is a 1986 batch retired IAS bureaucrat of Gujarat cadre. And Archana Ramasundaram is a 1980 batch retired IPS official of Tamil Nadu cadre while Mahender Singh is a 1981 batch retired officer of IRS (Customs & Central Excise).



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