NATIONAL

Ideology no bar to appointment of public prosecutors: Advani

CHENNAI OCT. 10. The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, has said that association with an ideology or organisation could not be a bar to appointment as public prosecutors.

In an interview on Wednesday to the `Hardtalk' programme on BBC, a transcript of which was made available, he said: "If in a particular Bar or in a particular place so many lawyers, almost a majority of them, are associated with a certain ideology, you cannot on that account bar them from doing what is a normal duty."

Mr. Advani said this when it was pointed out that there were instances of lawyers closely connected with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad being appointed public prosecutors, in particular in Panchmahal where the district unit president of the VHP had been made the public prosecutor. However, Mr. Advani said he was not aware that the Gujarat Government had appointed the VHP general secretary as the public prosecutor in Sardarpura, where 33 persons were burnt alive.

The remarks during the interview recorded on Wednesday assume importance in the context of the Supreme Court asking the Gujarat Government on Thursday to finalise the names of the special public prosecutors in consultation with the Attorney-General, Soli Sorabjee.

Asked whether the Gujarat Government's response to the Chief Justice of India's indictment of the handling of the Best Bakery case was "complete submission" to the Chief Justice's views, Mr. Advani agreed. "When the Chief Justice of the country makes an observation of this kind it certainly has to be taken seriously and I think that by responding to it, by telling the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court that they are willing to accept any prosecutor any way in which the court thinks justice can be done, they have given an appropriate response."

Referring to the mobilisation of Indian soldiers on the border with Pakistan, and then withdrawing them without any tangible gain, Mr. Advani said the mobilisation had forced the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, to change his language. "When you undertake a venture of the kind that was contemplated at that time you have to weigh all odds. I think we were able to change the situation to some extent, at least to this extent that the leader of Pakistan who came here three years back and refused to admit there was any such thing as terrorism — there's no terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, it's just a freedom struggle that's going on — he now doesn't say that. He simply says there's terrorism but I'm not responsible."

Mr. Advani insisted that although terrorism had not stopped it was down: "It hasn't stopped. But I do know from facts as well as statistics it has come down and if it had not come down we would not have seen tens of thousands of tourists going to Kashmir as they have been going this year."