Former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was on Sunday recommended to be the first Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman of India.
His name was finalised and recommended by the Selection Committee comprising of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, eminent jurist Mukul Rohatgi.
Justice Ghose retired from the Supreme Court in May 2017. He has been serving as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) since June 2017. He was also the former Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and a former judge of the Calcutta High Court.
After retiring in May 2017 from the Supreme Court, Justice Ghose joined the National Human Rights Commission.
As the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, he had convicted Sasikala, the live-in companion of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, in a corruption case.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Congress member, who is part of the committee, did not attend the meeting.
The other members of the Lokpal would include four former High Court judges, including a woman judge, and four former civil servants, the sources added. The selection was made weeks after the February-end deadline set by the Supreme Court.
Justice Ghose’s name was among the top 10 names that was shortlisted by the Lokpal Search Committee.
Jutice Ghose’s appointment has come nearly five years after the Lokpal Act was notified on January 16, 2014. The law provides for a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to probe cases of corruption against public servants.
The Supreme Court, while hearing a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, in a hearing on January 4, this year, had urged the government to appoint a Lokpal at the earliest, saying “much time has elapsed, something needs to be done”.
Delayed for some reason or the other, the search committee was constituted on September 27, 2018, after the Supreme Court’s intervention and former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai was nominated to head it.
The selection of Justice PC Ghose wasn’t without its own share of controversies.
Since there is no designated Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha currently, the government had invited Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress in the House, to meetings of the selection panel but as a “special invitee”.
Objecting to the invitation extended to him for the selection panel meeting as a “special invitee”, Kharge, however, refused to attend the Lokpal selection panel’s meeting
In a letter to the PM, he wrote that he would attend the meeting only after relevant changes are effected in the law. He had also hit out at the Modi government for not amending the Lokpal Act to facilitate the participation of the opposition in the Lokpal’s selection process.