The Modi government constituted an eight-member search committee, to be headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, to recommend the chairperson and members of the anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal. The committee, formed despite concerns raised by the Congress, has former chief of State Bank of India (SBI) Arundhati Bhattacharya, Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) head A S Kiran Kumar as members.
Besides them, Justice Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, former judge of Allahabad High Court; Shabbirhusein S Khandwawala, former Gujarat Police head; Lalit K Panwar, retired IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre; and Ranjit Kumar are the other members of the panel, according to an official order issued by the Personnel Ministry.
As per the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, only the leader of the opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha is a member of the selection committee and since Kharge does not have that status, he is not a part of the panel. A party should have at least 55 seats or 10 percent 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 it, the official said. The Lokpal selection committee headed by the prime minister has as its members the Lok Sabha speaker, leader of the opposition in the lower house, the chief justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the president or any other member.
Upon the recommendations of the selection committee in its meeting held on April 10, President Ram Nath Kovind had nominated Mukul Rohatgi, former Attorney General of India as ’eminent jurist’ member of the panel against the vacancy arising following the death of senior advocate P P Rao.