Retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose is likely to be named as India's first Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman. The Lokpal Bill, which envisages appointment of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to look into cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants, was passed on 2013.
An ombudsman is an official, usually appointed by government, who investigates complaints (usually lodged by private citizens) against businesses, financial institutions or government departments or other public entities, and attempts to resolve the conflicts or concerns raised.
While the official announcement regarding Ghose's appointment is likely on Monday, reports said that the selection committee tasked with instituting a Lokpal cleared Ghose's name in a meeting on Friday without Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge's involvement in the process.
The Centre's action over the Lokpal comes days after the Supreme Court's demand for information regarding the process. Earlier in March, the apex court had asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to inform it within 10 days about a possible date for the meeting of the selection committee — comprising of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and lawyer Mukul Rohatgi.
Who is Justice PC Ghose?
PC Ghose, 66, retired as Supreme Court judge in May 2017. He is a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) since June 2017. Ghose has also been the judge of the Calcutta High Court and the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
The son of the former chief justice of the Calcutta High Court, Ghose enrolled at the Bar in 1976. He practised on both, the original and the appellate side at the high court, reports said. "He made the switch to the Bench in 1997, when he was elevated as a judge of the Calcutta High court. He was then transferred to the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, where he became chief justice in December 2012," a report by Bar and Bench said.
In March 2013, Ghose was elevated to the Supreme Court, from where he retired in May 2017. During the retirement ceremony, members of the Bar, as well as the Bench, hailed Ghose for his noteworthy judgments, reports said.
Ghose's noteworthy judgments
The judgment Ghose is well-known for is his verdict in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case. Even though the judgment was passed after the former Tamil Nadu chief minister's death, the bench comprising of Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy overturned the Karnataka High Court's verdict and restored the earlier trial court verdict in toto which had held Jayalalithaa's aide VS Sasikala and other accused guilty.
In February 2017, the bench found Jayalalithaa and Sasikala guilty of misusing office to launder illegal wealth for purchasing properties in the name of masked fronts.
The judge is also known for the order of filing charges against BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and others involved in the Babri Masjid demolition case. In April 2017, a division bench of Justice RF Nariman and Ghose directed a trial court to frame charges against the politicians.
Additionally, Ghose was also a part of the bench that ruled the practices of Jallikattu and bullock cart races in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and was also involved in laying down the guidelines for publication of government advertisements, reports said.
What is the Lokpal?
A person who is or has been the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge is eligible for appointment as Lokpal. According to rules, there is provision for a chairperson and a maximum of eight members in the Lokpal panel. Of these, four need to be judicial members.
Not less than 50 percent of the members of the Lokpal panel shall be from amongst the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities and women, the rules say.
Upon selection, the chairperson and members shall hold office for a term of five years or till they attain 70 years of age. The salary and allowances of the chairman will be same as that of the Chief Justice of India. The members will be paid salary and allowances same as that of a judge of the Supreme Court.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Mar 18, 2019 10:03:20 IST