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No Lokpal appointment now: Centre

New Delhi, April 24: The Centre today assured the Supreme Court that it would not take any immediate decision on the appointment of the country’s first-ever Lokpal.

The move ends the controversy over the outgoing UPA government’s reported move to appoint the Lokpal.

“We are not making any appointments. No meetings of the committee has fixed as such for the purpose,” Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told a bench headed by Justice R.M. Lodha.

The Centre’s assurance means that the new government will take a decision on the appointment. Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, who is retiring on April 26, was tipped to take over as the national anti-graft Ombudsman.

After the Solicitor General gave the assurance, the apex court recorded the same in its order and posted the matter for further hearing to May 5.

The Centre’s assurance followed sharp criticism from an NGO, Common Cause, that the appointment of the Lokpal was being rushed through by the government that had decided to hold a meeting on April 27 for picking up the incumbent. The NGO had contended that the proposed meeting of the selection panel headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was improper and arbitrary as the country was in the midst of the general election.

The organisation had contended that its PIL challenging various provisions of the Lokpal Act was already under scrutiny of the apex court and the government should not make any appointment pending a decision on its petition.

It had sought a stay on the proposed meeting. The court had asked the Centre’s response on the NGO’s plea, pursuant to which the government gave an assurance.

The BJP had also expressed its opposition for the said meeting convened by the Prime Minister.