New Delhi, Aug 22:
The Supreme Court Friday said it will give a larger interpretation to the concept of opposition leader in the Lok Sabha if the government failed to resolve the issue.
Days after the Lok Sabha speaker ruled that the Congress won’t get the status of the opposition, Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman underlined the importance of the post.
The Leader of Opposition conveys the voice of the people different from that of the government, they said, raising questions regarding the absence of a recognized opposition leader in the lower house of parliament.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced that the Congress won’t be recognized as the main opposition party as it won only 44 seats, less than 10 percent of the 543 members who get elected.
The judges said they will examine the provision in the Lokpal law that mandates the presence of the leader of the opposition in the selection committee as there is no recognized opposition leader in the Lok Sabha.
The court said the leader of the opposition was an important component in the functioning of parliament.
The court said the leader of the opposition was of consequence not just in the context of the selection of Lokpal but also vis-a-vis the National Human Rights Commission and the Central Vigilance Commission.
The court asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatagi to clarify two points: how the government wishes to make the Lokpal Act workable and, two, how to move forward if there is no recognized opposition leader.
Chief Justice Lodha said that if government failed to resolve the issue, the court may give a larger interpretation to the term so that it may include the leader of the largest party in the opposition.
The court said this in the course of hearing a PIL by NGO Common Cause, which has challenged the search committee procedure for Lokpal.
Under the existing provision, anyone 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 sections of people and activists.