"However, this did not find favour with Solicitor General Parasaran who said there could be no public hearing of the appointments."
New Delhi, May 5 - In an important shift in its position, the central government Monday told the Supreme Court that it was considering amending the rules that would enable the search committee to identify the eminent people beyond those submitted to it by the government for selection as chairperson and members of the Lokpal.
Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told the bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph that the government was considering a proposal to amend the Lokpal Search Committee Rules to empower it to consider any person other than the people included in the list provided by the central government.
The rules proposed to be amended are the Search Committee - Rules, 2014.
The court was told that the amended rules would enable the search committee to identify eminent people in different fields, including judges of the Supreme Court and high courts to man the post of chairperson/members of Lokpal.
The government, in its May 2 communication by Minister of State in PMO V. Narayanasamy to Solicitor General Parasan, which was submitted to the court, said: It is felt that it may be possible that many eminent people, including judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, may have reservation in submitting their applications to the DoPT, particularly having regard to the pre-eminence of the position held by them.
Under the existing provision, any one desirous of being selected as chairman or a member of Lokpal has to make an application to the department of personnel and training -.
It is this procedure that has come under fire from various sections of people and NGO Common Cause which challenged the search committee procedure.
In the wake of the position by the government that it would revisit the rules to expand the scope of the search committee, the apex court adjourned the hearing till July after the summer vacation.
You amend the rules, then we will see, Chief Justice Lodha said adjourning the matter.
At this, counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, said they - should not proceed with the appointment of chairman and members of Lokpal under the existing provisions.
The court said the search committee may evolve better options as Bhushan told the court that the names of the shortlisted candidates for chairman and members of the Lokpal should be put on a website to elicit public opinion about them.
Bhushan said this was the least that could be done to make the search and selection process transparent.
However, this did not find favour with Solicitor General Parasaran who said there could be no public hearing of the appointments.
Former apex court judge Justice - K.T. Thomas and eminent jurist Fali Nariman had declined the government offer to be on the search committee precisely for the reason that the existing rules limited their choice to the list of names provided by the government and this defeated the very mandate of the committee to look for best people to be chairman and members of the Lokpal.