All eight newly appointed members of anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal on March 27 took oath of office. They were administered the oath by Lokpal chairperson Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, officials said.
President Ram Nath Kovind had on March 23 administered the oath of office to Justice Ghose as the country’s first Lokpal. Former Chief Justices of different high courts — Justices Dilip B Bhosale, Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Abhilasha Kumari and Ajay Kumar Tripathi — took oath as judicial members in the Lokpal.
Former first woman chief of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) Archana Ramasundaram, ex-Maharashtra chief secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, former IRS officer Mahender Singh and Gujarat cadre ex-IAS officer Indrajeet Prasad Gautam were sworn-in as the Lokpal’s non-judicial members. “The Lokpal can be said to have been made operational as its chairperson and eight members have been administered the oath of office,” a senior government official said.
According to the rules, there is provision for a chairperson and a maximum of eight members in the Lokpal panel. Of these, four need to be judicial members.
Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, ex-Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and senior minister in the Chhattisgarh government T S Singh Deo were present during the function.
While CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla was conspicuous by his absence, Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Jain, Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary, chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal Justice L Narasimha Reddy were present during the oath-taking ceremony.
A high-level selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recommended the appointments for chairperson and members of the Lokpal. The president approved the appointments.
Justice Ghose, 66, retired as Supreme Court judge in May 2017. He last served as member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The Lokpal Act, which envisages appointment of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to look into cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants, was passed in 2013.
Not less than 50 per cent of the members of the Lokpal panel shall be from amongst the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities and women, according to the rules.
Upon selection, the chairperson and members shall hold office for a term of five years or till they attain 70 years of age.
The Lokpal selection committee is headed by the prime minister and has as its members — Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition in the lower house, Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist nominated by the president or any other member.
Kovind had nominated former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi as “eminent jurist” as the member of the panel against the vacancy arising following the death of senior advocate P P Rao.