New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind appointed Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, a former Supreme Court judge, India’s first Lokpal, on Tuesday. With this, the first national anti-corruption ombudsman has been officially set up.
Justice Ghose will be the Lokpal panel’s first chairperson. The Lokpal will have eight members, with four from judicial and for from non-judicial backgrounds.
Justice Ghose’s name was finalized by a high-level selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and jurist Mukul Rohatgi. Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge was also invited as a “special invitee” in the meeting, however, he did not attend the panel meeting.
The four judicial members out of eight members include Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi, current chief justice of the Chhattisgarh high court; Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale, former chief justice of the Allahabad high court; Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty, former chief justice of the Jharkhand high court and Justice Abhilasha Kumari, former chief justice of the Manipur high court.
The four non-judicial members include Dinesh Kumar Jain, Maharashtra’s chief secretary; Archana Ramasundaram, retired IPS officer and ex-director general of Sashastra Seema Bal; Mahender Singh, retired IRS official and IP Gautam, retired IAS officer.
The names have been shortlisted by the Lokpal selection committee, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Lokpal Act was enacted in 2013, had received the presidential consent in January 2014. However, the implementation and selection of the Lokpal has been delayed for five years due to several reasons.
The Supreme Court was pushing the government to make the appointment of Lokpal at the earliest as it was delayed for nearly five years. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on March 7, had pulled up the Modi government to inform the apex court when it would appoint the Lokpal within a fortnight.
The Lokpal law empowers Lokpal at the centre and lokayuktas in states to enquire in to cases of corruption against public servants.