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Govt hints at Lokpal act review

New Delhi, July 4: The Narendra Modi government today informed the Supreme Court that it was “reconsidering” certain provisions of the Lokpal Act to make the ombudsman’s appointment process and functioning free of executive influence.

“We are reconsidering certain aspects of the act,” additional solicitor-general Maninder Singh told a bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Madan B. Lokur and Kurien Joseph. Singh sought six weeks to list the planned amendments.

The assurance is in sync with the stand taken by the UPA regime on May 5. Then solicitor-general Mohan Parasaran had said the Centre would amend the act to ensure judges didn’t apply for posts of the chairperson or members of the Lokpal, nor would a search panel be bound by government recommendations.

The Modi government’s clarification came on a PIL by NGO Common Cause saying some provisions infringed on the Lokpal’s autonomy. The Centre said it was considering a proposal to amend search committee rules to empower the panel to consider persons other than those on a list provided by the government.

The PIL had also expressed fears that judicial independence had been compromised with four to five judges applying for the posts.