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Former Supreme Court Judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose Appointed India's First Lokpal

Former Supreme Court Judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose Appointed India's First Lokpal

The appointment has come through five years after the Lokpal Act was notified for effecting a panel of ombudsmen to look into cases of corruption and maladministration by public servants.

New Delhi: Former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was on Tuesday appointed as the country's first Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman.

The appointment has come through five years after the Lokpal Act was notified for effecting a panel of ombudsmen to look into cases of corruption and maladministration by public servants.

A selection committee, comprising the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India , Lok Sabha Speaker and an eminent jurist, finalised Justice Ghose's name in a meeting last week after the Supreme Court set a deadline.

Former 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, according to an official communique.

Justices Dilip B Bhosale, Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Abhilasha Kumari and Ajay Kumar Tripathi have been appointed as judicial members in the anti-corruption ombudsman, the statement by Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

These appointments were recommended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee and approved by President Ram Nath Kovind. "The above appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices," it said.

Justice Ghose, 66, retired as Supreme Court judge in May 2017 after a tenure of four years. He is a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) since June 29, 2017.

What makes the Lokpal powerful is the authority under the law to investigate complaints against current and former prime ministers, Union ministers, members of Parliament, government employees and employees of public sector undertakings, and key employees of non-governmental organisations receiving more than Rs 10 lakh a year in foreign contributions, among others.

The Lokpal has to work in tandem with the Central Vigilance Commission, it can direct any investigating agency, including the CBI, to look into allegations of graft under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The appointment of Justice Ghose, however, may kick up a controversy with the process not having a voice of the opposition. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was called in as a special invitee to the selection committee meeting but he refused to attend. Kharge pointed that a special invitee would not have any rights to vote and that the opposition was being made "voiceless" in a critical matter.