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SC asks Centre to come clean on LoP

SC asks Centre to come clean on LoP
Highlights

SC asks Centre to come clean on LoP, Concerned over the absence of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha, whose presence is required on many selection panels for making constitutional appointments like Lokpal.

  • Gives 4 weeks, stresses importance of LoP in LS
  • Central government should resolve the issue
  • Else, SC will interpret the provision of LoP
  • Says LoP presence needed on key selection panels
  • LS Speaker had ruled that Cong stood no chance


New Delhi: Concerned over the absence of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha, whose presence is required on many selection panels for making constitutional appointments like Lokpal, Central Vigilance Commissioner, NHRC Chairman etc, the Supreme Court on Friday gave four weeks time to come clear on the LoP issue. After Centre’s response, it will give an interpretation to the concept of LoP in the Lok Sabha. The court asked Centre’s counsel Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to clarify whether the government was keen on the Lokpal Act and what to do if there is no recognized opposition leader. The court was hearing a PIL by NGO Common Cause, which challenged a clause that those keen on becoming chairman or a member of Lokpal should apply to the department of personnel and training.

When Rohatagi said that the Centre was reviewing the Lokpal Act, the CJI said the government did not resolve the issue, the court would provide a larger interpretation of the term ‘Leader of Opposition’ so as to include the leader of the largest party in the opposition in the selection panels. A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha and comprising Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said the LoP holds a crucial position in democracy and conveys the voice of people different from that of the government in the House. It observed that the issue of LoP is relevant not only in Lokpal law but also in other existing and incoming legislations. It said the Lokpal Act cannot be put in cold storage, and posted the case for final disposal on September 9.

The apex court’s observation comes days after Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan the Congress would not get the status of the opposition. Congress, the second largest party in the Lok Sabha, has only 44 seats. To be considered the LoP, it needs to have 55 members, the requisite 10 per cent of the total seats in the House. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced that the Congress won't be recognized as the main opposition party as it won only 44 seats, less than 10 percent of the 543 members who get elected.

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