In a major embarrassment to the government, eminent lawyer Fali Nariman has refused to be part of the search committee to select a panel of names for the appointment of a chairperson and members of the Lokpal.
When the selection committee comprising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Supreme Court judge H.L. Dattu and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj wanted to nominate a jurist member, Mr. Nariman’s name was among those Ms. Swaraj had suggested, but instead senior advocate P.P. Rao was chosen.
Mr. Nariman said the current selection process would overlook the most competent, the most independent and the most courageous.
In a letter to V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr. Nariman said he declines the “honour” to be part of the search committee.
“In my humble view, this is no way in which an institution as vital and as important as the Lokpal is to be constituted.
“The chairperson and members of the Lokpal as ultimately selected may well be projected as democratically chosen by a broad consensus from amongst two levels of selectors (upper and lower), but it is precisely for that reason that I do fear that the most competent the most independent and the most courageous will get overlooked,” he said.
The government had offered Mr. Nariman to be part of the search committee on February 21, 2014.
His name was proposed by a five-member selection panel to be part of the eight-member search committee under the Lokpal Act.
The search committee will scrutinise the applications received for the post of chairperson and eight members (four judicial and four non-judicial) and forward the names to the selection panel.
The selection committee comprises Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam’s nominee and Supreme Court judge H.L. Dattu, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and jurist P.P. Rao.
Mr. Narayanasamy, who is Minister of State for Personnel, said all procedures had been followed for forming the search committee.
“I would like to make it very clear. Transparent method has been followed. The process was followed very properly. As far as the selection of members of the search committee is concerned, Fali Nariman was one among the jurists who have been considered... It is for the person concerned either to accept or not to accept,” he said.
Mr. Jaitley, who has written to the Prime Minister on the issue twice earlier, has alleged that the procedure adopted by DoPT is violative of the Lokpal Act in order to rush through the appointments and “pack it”.
He said the best people should be appointed to the anti-corruption body and the procedure should be strictly on the basis of the Lokpal Act.