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Lokpal Act: Govt holds discussion on amending Lokpal Act in absence of LoP


New Delhi (Nov. 14, 2014): With nearly three weeks left for retirement of CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, the government on Friday held discussion on the issue of bringing an amendment in the Lokpal Act for selection of his successor in the absence of Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in Lok Sabha.

A meeting was held by senior officials of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which acts as the nodal authority for processing appointments to various bodies like Lokpal, CVC, CBI and CIC, among others, to discuss the matter, official sources said.

As per the Act, the selection of the CBI Chief has to be done by a committee headed by the Prime Minister, and comprising the LoP in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him as members.

However, in the absence of the LoP, the government is mulling options which included adding an explanation in the Act to include the leader of single largest party when there is no recognised opposition leader in Lok Sabha. The tenure of Sinha ends on December 2.

The Union Cabinet on Monday had deferred a proposal moved by DoPT seeking to amend the Lokpal Act.

Congress with 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha has emerged as the second largest party after BJP's 280 but fell short by 11 to stake claim for the LoP's post for which it requires a minimum strength of 55.

Earlier, the CBI Director was being selected under the provision of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946.
As per the DSPE Act, the central government shall appoint the CBI Director on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Central Vigilance Commissioner as Chairperson and Vigilance Commissioners, Home Secretary and Secretary (Co-ordination and Public Grievances the Cabinet Secretariat) as members.

However, after the enactment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act in January this year, the provisions of the DSPE Act were changed including the requirement of consultation with the outgoing CBI Director in the selection process.

Sources said the proposal to include the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha in the selection panel will again be put up before the Cabinet once Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes back from his foreign tour.

After his nod, an amendment bill may be brought in the Winter Session of Parliament scheduled to begin from November 24.