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Lokpal assurance

New Delhi, May 5: The Centre today assured the Supreme Court it would carry out amendments to the Lokpal Act to ensure that judges did not need to apply for posts and that the search committee was not bound by the government’s recommendations.

The issue has been re-examined, said a letter from V. Narayanasamy, minister of state in the PMO, which was produced in court by solicitor-general Mohan Parasaran.

“It is felt that it may be possible that eminent persons, including judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, may have reservations in submitting their applications to the DoPT, particularly having regard to the pre-eminence of the positions held by them,” the letter addressed to Parasaran said.

“Government feels that the search committee should be empowered to consider such eminent persons on its own, ie, without their having to submit any applications/nominations.”

The letter, produced in the court of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, further said the government was considering a proposal to amend the rules suitably so as to empower the search committee to “consider any person other than the persons included in the list provided by the central government”.

“This would enable the search committee to identify eminent persons in different fields, including judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, to man the posts of chairperson/ members of the Lokpal,” it said.

The Centre’s assurance came on a PIL filed by the NGO Common Cause challenging certain provisions of the Lokpal as unconstitutional. It also expressed fears that judicial independence had been compromised with four to five judges applying for the posts.

The PIL had further contended that the Act had restricted the search committee’s independence by ensuring that the panel shortlisted only the names recommended by the government.