Statute panel to seek ex-PMs' views

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution has sought the views and suggestions of former Prime Ministers on the areas of study undertaken by the panel.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Commission Chairman, Mr. Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, made it clear that ``there is no politics involved in inviting the former Prime Minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, to the Commission to give his views''.

``As a policy we have decided to seek the views of all the former Prime Ministers, former President, former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, former Speakers and other dignitaries who had held high offices. It was in this context Mr. Rao was invited to the Commission,'' he said.

Mr. I.K. Gujral had also agreed to come to the Commission to give his views. Though he gave a date for his visit he could not come on that day and had agreed to come on a later date, he added.

Commission sources said informal contacts had also been established with Mr. V.P. Singh and Mr. Chandra Shekhar and their visit would be finalised once they agree. The former President, Mr. R. Venkataraman, would also be requested to give his suggestions.

Releasing three more consultation papers on `probity in governance'; `constitutional mechanisms for settlement of Inter- State disputes' and `effectuation of fundamental duties of citizens', Mr. Justice Venkatachaliah said with this the Commission had so far released 14 papers for eliciting the views of the public and five more would be released shortly.

The Chairman was optimistic that the Commission would be able to complete its task and submit its report by October 31. He made it clear that the Commission would not seek further extension beyond October 31. He was confident that all the 29 areas of study indicated for review would be covered.

Asked whether the issue of Indian nationals of foreign origin holding high office would be taken up for consideration, he said ``wait and see''. He parried a question whether the Commission was reluctant to take up the issue.