Former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was on Sunday recommended to be the first Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman of India. His name was finalised and recommended by the Selection Committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and eminent jurist Mukul Rohatgi. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who was invited to be a part of the committee, did not attend the meeting.
Justice Ghose, 67, who is a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) since June 2017, retired from the Supreme Court on May 27, 2017. He had assumed charge as Supreme Court judge on March 8, 2013. His was among the top 10 names shortlisted by the Lokpal Search Committee.
In July 2015, a Supreme Court bench of Justice Ghose issued a notice to late former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on a petition by the Karnataka government, challenging the High Court verdict acquitting her and three others in a disproportionate assets case.
He is a former judge of the Calcutta High Court and former Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Born in Kolkata, Justice Ghose is son of Late Justice Sambhu Chandra Ghose, former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court. Graduating in Commerce from St.Xavier's College, Calcutta, Justice Ghose completed graduation in law (LL.B.) from University of Calcutta and obtained Attorney-at-Law at Calcutta High Court, and enrolled himself as an advocate on November 30, 1976 with Bar Council of West Bengal. He practised in civil, commercial, arbitration, constitutional and company matters both in the original side and appellate side at Calcutta High Court.
On July 17, 1997, Justice Ghose was elevated as a permanent Judge of High Court at Calcutta. He held the post of Executive Chairman, Andaman and Nicobar State Legal Services Authority and Executive Chairman, State Legal Services Authority, West Bengal, since January 2, 2007 and August 1, 2007 respectively.
Since January 14, 2005, he was associated with Indian Law Institute (Calcutta Chapter) and acted as the Treasurer of the Indian Law Institute till May 22, 2012. He Was Chairman of Institutional Ethics Committee of National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata.
Jutice Ghose's appointment has come nearly five years after the Lokpal Act was notified on January 16, 2014. The law provides for a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states to probe cases of corruption against public servants.
The Supreme Court, hearing a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, has been pushing the government to make the appointments. In its hearing on January 4, the apex court had asked the government to appoint a Lokpal at the earliest, saying "much time has elapsed, something needs to be done".
On January 17, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre for repeatedly delaying the appointment of the Lokpal. On March 7, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had asked the Modi government to inform the court within a fortnight by when it would finalise the names.
Delayed for some reason or the other, the search committee was constituted on September 27, 2018, after the Supreme Court's intervention and former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai was nominated to head it.