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Flaying the Narendra Modi government for keeping the Lokpal Act in limbo,the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to interpret the leader of opposition (LoP) provision for the purpose of appointment of the anti-graft watchdog and other important posts in which LoP has a major say as a selection committee member.
Stating that an important law like this can not be kept in cold storage, a bench headed by Chief Justice RK Lodha emphasised on the importance of the post.
“LoP conveys the voice of a representative different from the government in the House. LoP is a very important position and the issue needs objective consideration in view of the current political situation where at present there is no leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha... the issue of LoP is relevant not only in Lokpal law but also in other existing and incoming legislations lile CVC Act, etc,” it said, questioning the government whether any selection can be fair without such important stautory post.
It gave the government time till September 9 to come up its views on the selection panel comprising the Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.
Congress, as the second largest party in the Lok Sabha with 44 seats, has been making a strong bid for the LoP post but the ruling BJP has not acceded, saying the opposition party does not have the requisite 10% seats which meant it needed 55 seats in a house of 543 to stake claim.
Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi told the court it is undertaking substantial review of Lokpal Act and rules to address many concerns.
Latching on to the apex court's observations on the LoP issue, the Congress party said it “vindicates” the party's stand and alleged that the Speaker's decision to deny the LoP status to it in Lok Sabha appeared “coloured by BJP's partisan agenda”.
“The Supreme Court observation has actually vindicated what the Congress and the UPA have been saying through out. The decision of the Speaker was in utter disregard to law and appears to be clearly influenced and coloured by the partisan agenda of the BJP-led government,” Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said soon after the hearing.
Hitting out at the government over denial of LoP status to Congress, Sharma said that when the Congress had made a representation to Lok