By Prarthana Mitra
Last week, a centrally appointed eight-member committee was directed to recommend potential candidates for India’s first Lokpal. The position has been coined for an independent officer of the Parliament who will serve as an anti-corruption checkpoint for all actions of the public authorities.
The committee chaired by Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai submitted eight names for the committee as per guidelines laid down in the Lokpal Act. One of the conditions was to constitute half the panel with judicial members and the other half with SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
The Lokpal selection process, already delayed by four years since the bill was passed, is finally back on track with the committee finally in place. Here are the members who will vote on the anti-corruption watchdog.
Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai
Currently serving as chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity, Justice Desai held a senior position in the Supreme Court till 2014, during which she had ruled (alongside CJI Ranjan Gogoi) on the right to register a “none of the above” (NOTA) vote in elections. Another major verdict she delivered was to cancel the government’s Haj subsidy by 2022.
Another woman on the committee who made history is Bhattacharya, who became the first woman Chairperson of India’s largest public sector bank, State Bank of India, and the first woman to lead a Fortune India 500 company. She was also named as the 26th most powerful woman in the world in 2006 by Forbes magazine. Besides riding through the NPA-ridden banking sector, Bhattacharya will also be remembered for introducing a host of pro-women policies to the workspace.
AS Kiran Kumar
Former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Kumar received the Padma Shri for his contributions in building India’s first remote sensing satellite back in 1979. He has also played an instrumental role in designing and developing crucial mechanisms of Chandrayaan-1 and Mangalyaan, which fetched him international felicitation in recent times.
Justice Sakha Ram Singh Yadav
Justice Sakha Yadav served as a senior advocate and judge at the Allahabad High Court before retiring in July 2002, during which he ruled on issues involving upliftment of the marginalised. He also famously joined hands with other retired judged in 2006 to persuade the government and find an answer to clean the Ganga. He was appointed as a legal expert at the Visva Bharati University in 2015.
Having served as the Solicitor General of India until recently, Ranjit Kumar has also been the standing counsel for the Gujarat government and according to media reports, appeared in several important matters including the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.
Lalit K Pawar
Currently the Vice-Chancellor of the Rajasthan ILD Skill University and former Chairman of Rajasthan Public Service Commission, Pawar had earlier served in the minority affairs ministry, the India Tourism Development Corporation, before Prime Minister Narendra Modi handpicked him for the tourism ministry.
The current chairperson of Prasar Bharti (India’s largest public broadcaster) has extensive experience in the field of journalism holding senior positions in The Indian Express, the Eenadu Group, and Zee News. Surya Prakash is also a prolific author, having written a book called What Ails Indian Parliament.
Shabbirhusein S Khandwawala
Khandwawala is an IPS officer who became Gujarat’s first Muslim Director General of Police in February 2009, succeeding PC Pande who was suspended for inaction during the horrific 2002 riots.
According to the Act, the search committee was to comprise individuals 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”. Only time will tell if the Lokpal-elect will live up to the high standards that the screening committee has been held against.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.