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Justice A M Khanwilkar Appointed Lokpal Chairperson

In a significant development, former Supreme Court judge Justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar has been appointed as the chairperson of the Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman of India. His appointment comes after a distinguished career in the judiciary, retiring from the apex court in July 2022.

Composition of the Lokpal

The notification issued by Rashtrapati Bhawan also announced the appointments of other key members of the Lokpal. Joining Justice Khanwilkar are Justice Lingappa Narayana Swamy, Justice Sanjay Yadav, and Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi as judicial members. The non-judicial members include Sushil Chandra, Pankaj Kumar, and Ajay Tirkey. Notably, Sushil Chandra, a former chief election commissioner, brings a wealth of administrative experience, while Awasthi currently serves as the chairperson of the law commission.

The judicial members appointed are as follows:

  1. Justice Lingappa Narayana Swamy
  2. Justice Sanjay Yadav
  3. Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi

Other members are:

  1. Sushil Chandra
  2. Pankaj Kumar
  3. Ajay Tirkey

Appointment Process

The chairperson and members of the Lokpal are appointed by the President following the recommendations of a Selection Committee chaired by the Prime Minister. The Lokpal, as per its mandate, can have a total of eight members, comprising four judicial and four non-judicial members.

Justice A M Khanwilkar: A Profile

Justice Khanwilkar’s tenure on the Supreme Court bench, spanning from May 2016 to July 2022, was marked by several landmark judgments that left a lasting impact on Indian jurisprudence. Notable among these are his contributions to cases such as the Sabarimala women’s entry, decriminalization of homosexuality, and the validity of Aadhaar. He notably led the bench that upheld the exoneration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.

Additionally, Justice Khanwilkar played a pivotal role in the Common Cause v Union of India (2018) case, where the majority of a five-judge bench held that the right to die with dignity is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Before his elevation to the Supreme Court, Justice Khanwilkar served as the chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh high courts, and as a judge of the Bombay High Court.

About the Lokpal

The Lokpal was established under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013. The Lokpal is tasked with inquiring and investigating allegations of corruption against public functionaries falling within the scope and ambit of the Lokpal Act. Former Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court, Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty is currently serving as the acting chairperson of the Lokpal.

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