No Leader of Opposition? Explain, Says Supreme Court to Centre

mahajanNEW DELHI : The Supreme Court today told the government that it is concerned about the post of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha remaining vacant. Judges said the position “conveys a voice different from the government’s” and is therefore crucial. The Centre has been given four weeks to furnish its response.
The Congress had claimed that as the single-largest opposition party, its floor leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, should be recognized as Leader of the Opposition. But Speaker Sumitra Mahajan ruled that out, citing rules that a party must have at least 55 members in the House to claim the post.  The Congress has 44.
The comments by judges were made as they heard a case that asks the government to explain the delay in appointing the nine members of the national anti-graft ombudsman or Lokpal, which has been birthed by a law passed by Parliament in December.Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, who is also a leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, has brought the case to the Supreme Court.
The judges pointed out that by law, the committee that selects the Lokpal’s members must include the Leader of the Opposition along with the Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India.   The Lokpal’s nine members are meant to include four former or serving judges. The law that creates the Lokpal was passed by Parliament in December, after two years of stalling. The need for an ombudsman empowered to investigate corrupt government officials was championed by activist Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal in 2012 in a high-profile movement which caught the imagination of middle class India.  Mr Kejriwal now heads the AAP.

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