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The 8 men and women who will find India’s first Lokpal

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The search committee, which includes former SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya, will recommend the names for the chairperson and members of the Lokpal.

New Delhi: The central government has announced an eight-member search committee — led by former Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai — who will recommend the names for India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman body, the Lokpal.

As per the Lokpal Act, the search committee was required to include members with “special knowledge and expertise in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, policy-making, finance, including insurance and banking, law and management or in any other matter which in the opinion of the selection committee, may be useful in making the selection of the chairperson and members of Lokpal”.

Who are these members and what have they achieved in life? ThePrint has the answers:

Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai (retd)

The committee’s chairperson, Justice Desai, has also been chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity. Daughter of criminal lawyer S.G. Samant, she served in the top court between September 2011 and October 2014.

Among her many notable judgments, one that stands out is the 2013 ruling stating that voters should have the right to register a ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) vote in elections.

The bench, including then-Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had said that negative voting would gradually lead to systemic changes, and directed the EC to provide a NOTA button.

In 2012, justices Desai and Altamas Kabir had ordered the government to strike down the Haj subsidy by 2022.

Justice Sakha Ram Singh Yadav (retd)

Justice Yadav is a former judge and senior advocate of the Allahabad High Court. His father Roop Nath Singh Yadav was also a lawyer, but left the practice after he became a minister in Chaudhary Charan Singh’s Uttar Pradesh government.

In 2006, Justice Yadav, along with other retired judges, had urged the government to find a permanent solution to the pollution in the river Ganga, as it “holds great spiritual value for the people”.

In 2015, he became the first legal expert in the executive council of West Bengal’s Visva Bharati in 30 years.

Ranjit Kumar

Kumar is a former Solicitor-General of India. His resignation from the post had come as a shock to many, because it came within months of the government giving him an extension. He put in his papers in October 2017, citing “personal and health concerns”. The post continues to be vacant.

Arundhati Bhattacharya

The first woman to chair the State Bank of India, Bhattacharya actually spent 40 years with the bank. It was under her leadership that SBI accomplished the enormous task of merging its five associate banks — State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore.

She was among the bankers who spoke in favour of moves such as demonetisation and the roll out of GST, stating that these are “big reforms which will take time to settle down but in the long term will be positive for the economy”.

Also read: Modi government’s refusal to appoint Lokpal weakens its Rafale defence

Lalit K. Pawar

Retired IAS officer Lalit K. Pawar is the vice-chancellor of the Rajasthan ILD Skill University, and former chairman of Rajasthan Public Service Commission.

Pawar was earlier secretary in the minority affairs ministry, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after seeing Pawar’s departmental presentation on minority affairs, asked him: “In which subject you have done your doctorate?” When Pawar reportedly told him that it was in tourism, he was appointed secretary in the tourism ministry. He has also served as chairman- managing director of the state-run India Tourism Development Corporation.

Shabbirhusein S. Khandwawala

The former DGP of Gujarat is the only ex-IPS officer part of the search committee. He became the first Muslim DGP of Gujarat in 2009, succeeding P.C. Pande, who was accused of inaction during the 2002 riots. Khandwawala retired from the post in 2010.

Surya Prakash

The chairperson of Prasar Bharati is a well-travelled journalist, having served as the chief of bureau at The Indian Express and then as editor of Zee News. He is currently in his second term as Prasar Bharati chief, and will remain in the seat till February 2020.

A.S. Kiran Kumar

The former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and a Padma Shri awardee, Kiran Kumar has been the brain behind the development of some key scientific instruments. He has been awarded ‘Laurels for Team Achievement’ twice by the International Academy of Astronautics — for Cartosat in 2008 and for Chandrayaan-1 in 2013.

Also read: Modi govt forms 8 member Lokpal search panel including Prasar Bharti chief A. Surya Prakash


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  1. Justice Jasti Chelameswar would make an outstanding Lokpal, enjoying near universal respect and credibility. What needs to be avoided is a Justice Sathasivam like figure.

  2. This could have been one of the first few things to be addressed in 2014, considering how much traction the idea of a Lokpal had acquired.

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