While former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held two meetings of the Lokpal Selection Committee in February 2014 after the Lokpal Bill was passed, the next meeting was held under Prime Minister Narendra Modi only on March 1 this year, that is after 45 months PM Modi had taken over the RTI filed by activist Anjali Bharadwaj showed.
Interestingly, it also said the Search Committee under a former Supreme Court judge “has not been held till date”. The search committee is mandated to prepare a list of eligible eminent persons for the consideration of the Selection Committee for appointing as Lokpal.
Anjali said, “this betrays the lack of commitment of the government in setting up the Lokpal. The Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013 to set up an independent and empowered body to look into cases of corruption.
Although the BJP came to power on the plank of anti-corruption, the government has failed to set up the Lokpal till date.” she added
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has also denied providing minutes of the meeting held saying, “as regards the minutes of the meetings, it is submitted that the authorship of such documents which include 3-5 high level dignitaries does not vest in the Department of Personnel & Training and same have been shared as secret documents. Thus copies of the said documents cannot be provided.”
Anjali has  said the DoPT has not cited any of the exemptions allowed under the RTI Act and the denial of information is “blatantly illegal”.
“For institutions of oversight to enjoy credibility, it is of paramount importance that they are appointed in a transparent and fair manner.
The long delay and the opacity in the process of appointment being followed by the government will undermine public trust even before the Lokpal is set up,” she said.
The government had in September notified the setting up of an eight-member Search Committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai for preparing a panel of persons as chairperson and members of the anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal.
The formation of the Search Committee had come after the Congress had upped the ante over inviting its leader in the Lok Sabha as a “special invitee” only as he does not have the right to record his opinion but only be present as an observer.
Congress’ Leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has boycotted the past six meetings citing his status on the panel.
The government was at the receiving end in the Supreme Court in July when the apex court found “unsatisfactory” the centre’s response on steps taken for setting up Lokpal.