Modi government appoints Mukul Rohatgi as eminent jurist in Lokpal panel

New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi has been appointed as an eminent jurist in the selection committee for appointment of anti-graft ombudsman Lokpal, the Centre told the Supreme Court today. Attorney General K K Venugopal told a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi that a decision was taken on May 11 to appoint Rohatgi as an eminent jurist in the selection committee which is chaired by the Prime Minister. Rohatgi was appointed the Attorney General of India after the Narendra Modi government assumed power in May 2014. He resigned from the post in June 2017. The post of eminent jurist in the Lokpal selection panel was lying vacant since the death of senior advocate P P Rao on September 11, 2017. The committee comprises of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the largest opposition party and an eminent jurist. The bench, on hearing the submissions, posted the matter for hearing on July 2. It was hearing a contempt petition filed by NGO Common Cause, which had raised the issue of non-appointment of the ombudsman despite the apex courts verdict of April 27 last year. The Centre had on April 17 told the apex court that a recommendation for induction of an eminent jurist in the selection committee for the appointment of Lokpal was made at a recent meeting of the panel chaired by the Prime Minister and approval was awaited. The apex court had observed that since the steps for the appointment had already been taken, there was no need to pass any further order at this stage. Venugopal had told the bench that at the April 10 meeting of selection panel, the recommendation for induction\/appointment of an eminent jurist in the committee has been made and approval of the said recommendation is presently pending. Senior advocate P P Rao was earlier appointed as an eminent jurist in the committee but the post fell vacant after his death last year. The apex court, in its last years verdict, had said there was no justification to keep the enforcement of Lokpal Act suspended till the proposed amendments, including on the issue of the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, were cleared by Parliament. It had said the Act was an eminently workable piece of legislation and does not create any bar to the enforcement of provisions. The top court had also said that the amendments proposed to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013, and the views of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, were attempts to streamline the working of the Act and did not constitute legal hindrances or bar its enforcement. The judgement had come on a plea by the NGO and others seeking immediate appointment of the Lokpal.