Former Supreme Court judge Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar was administered the oath of office as the chairperson of the anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal by President Droupadi Murmu here on Sunday, nearly two years after the post fell vacant.

The swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan was attended by Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

President Murmu administered the oath of office of chairperson, Lokpal to Khanwilkar at a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Sunday evening, according to an official statement.

Justice (retired) Khanwilkar was appointed as the Lokpal chairperson in the last week of February.

The Lokpal was functioning without its regular chief since Pinaki Chandra Ghose completed his term on May 27, 2022.

Chairperson of the Law Commission of India and former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Ritu Raj Awasthi, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court Lingappa Narayana Swamy and former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Sanjay Yadav were appointed as judicial members in the Lokpal last month.

Justice (retired) Khanwilkar, 66, served as a judge of the apex court from May 13, 2016 to July 29, 2022.

In his last year, Khanwilkar authored a series of crucial judgements that validated sweeping powers against citizens in special legislations — the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act.

He also contributed to several other judgments, including the landmark 2018 ruling that struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalising consensual gay sex.

He was in the Constitution bench that had declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions, including linking it to bank accounts, mobile phones, and school admissions.

Justice Khanwilkar was part of the bench in 2022 that dismissed a plea of Zakia Jafri, the wife of slain MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the Special Investigation Team's (SIT) clean chit to 64 people, including then chief minister Narendra Modi, in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.

Two days before his retirement, Justice Khanwilkar delivered a judgment that give enormous powers to the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Born in Pune, Khanwilkar had also been Chief Justice of the High Courts of Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

The chairperson and members of the Lokpal are appointed by the President after obtaining the recommendations of a Selection Committee having the prime minister as its chairperson.

Apart from a chairperson, the Lokpal can have eight members -- four judicial and as many non-judicial.

Former civil servants Sushil Chandra, Pankaj Kumar and Ajay Tirkey have been appointed as the non-judicial members in the Lokpal.

The latest appointments in the anti-corruption ombudsman mark a significant step in bolstering the Lokpal's operations and upholding accountability in India's governance system, officials said. 

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by staff)