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Went by rules on LoP: Speaker

New Delhi, Aug. 23 (PTI): Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today said her decision not to grant the Congress the status of leader of Opposition was based on “rules and tradition”, a day after the Supreme Court asked the government to clarify its stand.

She also said the court, which asked the Centre to explain within a fortnight how it would ensure an Opposition role in selecting the Lokpal as the country does not have a leader of Opposition (LoP) now, had made “no observation” against the Speaker.

The Lokpal act says the chairperson and members shall be appointed by the President after obtaining the recommendations of a selection committee. One of the members of the selection committee is the Lok Sabha leader of Opposition.

“The Supreme Court has questioned the Centre on the issue of the Lokpal’s appointment in the absence of (an) LoP and the attorney general will inform the court about the government’s stand. It has made no observation against the Speaker,” Mahajan told reporters.

“I have taken the decision after studying the rules and traditions and after taking experts’ opinion on the issue. No Opposition party has more than 55 (seats). Till date, the rule that a party should have a minimum of 10 per cent seats in the House (for being accorded the status of LoP) has not changed,” she said, adding that, in any case, the Opposition existed in House and was doing its work even without a formally anointed leader.

Under the 10 per cent rule, framed by independent India’s first Lok Sabha Speaker G.V. Mavalankar, the 44-MP Congress needs 11 members more to qualify for the post in the 543-strong House.

The Speaker also said in 1980 and 1984, the House had no leader of Opposition because no party had the required strength.