FMR SC Judge P C Ghose Is India’s First Lok Pal To Probe Corruption Cases Involving Political & Administrative Bigwigs

Former Supreme Court Judge Pinaki Chandra has been appointed India’s first Lokpal with Justices Dilip B Bhosale, Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Abhilasha Kumari and Ajay Kumar Tripathi as judicial members for the anti-corruption ombudsman. Their tenure of office is five years or till the age of 70 whichever is earlier. These appointments were recommended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed selection committee and approved by President Ram Nath Kovind. The other Members of the committee were Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajjan and Mukul Rohatgi, former Attorney General and noted SC lawyer. Before coming to the Supreme Court, he was Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court Justice of the Calcutta High Court. He is presently a member of the National Human Rights Commission. He appointed as the first Lokpal of India on March 19, 2019. Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, 66, is son of Late Shri Justice Sambhu Chandra Ghose, former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court. Kolkata born Pinaki Ghose is a fifth generation lawyer in the family of Dewan Baranasi Ghose of Jorasanko, a renowned family of North Kolkata. Hara Chandra Ghose, who became the first Indian Chief Judge of the Sadar Dewani Adalat at Calcutta in 1867, was a member of this family. According to an communiqué issued by the  Rashtrapati Bhawan on March 19, 2019, ex- Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) chief Archana Ramasundaram, ex-Maharashtra chief secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, Mahender Singh and Indrajeet Prasad Gautam have been appointed as non-judicial members of Lokpal. Opposition parties had been accusing the Modi government of delaying the appointment of Lokpal. The selection of the Lokpal followed the insistence of the Supreme Court, which asked the government what steps had been taken to set up the mechanism expected to consider complaints of corruption in high places. The Anna Hazare-led movement had gained wide traction in 2013 in the wake of a series of scams like Commonwealth Games, 2G and Coalgate during the UPA regime. The demand for Lokpal lost steam with subsequent efforts at mobilisation on the issue drawing a tepid response. However, the SC continued to exert pressure on the government. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge stayed away from the meetings. Justice Ghose had retired as SC judge in May 2017. He has been a member of the National Human Rights Commission since June 29, 2017.The law envisages appointment of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to examine specific complaints of corruption. According to 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. Not less than 50 per cent of the members of the Lokpal shall be from amongst the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities and women, the rules say. The salary and allowances of the chairman will be same as that of the Chief Justice of India. The members will be paid salary and allowances same as that of a judge of the Supreme Court. The President had nominated former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi as “eminent jurist” in the panel against the vacancy arising following the death of senior advocate P P Rao.Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had been invited in the past meetings of the selection panel as a “special invitee”. However, he had been refusing to attend the meetings since February last year arguing that there was no provision for a special invitee to attend such a meet. In a recent letter to PM Modi, he alleged that the government has not made any attempt to amend the relevant provisions of the Lokpal Act to include the leader of the single largest party in the opposition as a member of the selection committee. There is no leader of opposition or LOP in the current Lok Sabha.A party should have at least 55 seats or 10 per cent of the strength of the Lok Sabha for its leader to get the LOP status. The Congress is the single largest opposition party in the lower House but its leader could not be given the LOP status as it does not have the requisite number to qualify for the position.

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