Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley has slammed the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for diluting the role of Selection and Search Committees for Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Referring to the refusal of senior lawyer Fali Nariman to join the Search Committee, Mr. Jaitley 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. The purpose of the DoPT is only to provide administrative and logistic support to the Selection Committee and the Search Committee.”

Mr. Jaitley, who had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue twice earlier, alleged that the DoPT violated the Lokpal Act to rush through the appointments and “pack it with its own men.”

“The Selection Committee has met only once on February 21. In the said meeting, I understand that members of the Search Committee were appointed. Instead of the procedure for selection being laid down by the Selection Committee, the entire functioning has been usurped by the DoPT,” he said.

Meanwhile, highly-placed sources pointed out the anomaly in the Lokpal Act and the Rules framed under it. The Act says: “....persons chosen for Search Committee should have special knowledge and expertise in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, policy making, finance including insurance and banking, law and management or in any other matter.” However, the Rules prescribe that such persons must have expertise in the field for at least 25 years, the sources told The Hindu.

The Lokpal Rules says, “Every rule and regulation made under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament, while it is in session, for a total period of 30 days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions..” for ratification. But that had not happened, the sources said.

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