In a continuing embarrassment to the UPA government, second person from the Lok Pal Search Committee has opted out of it. After Fali S. Nariman last week, search committee Chairman former Supreme Court judge KT Thomas wrote today to the Prime Minister asking him to excuse him from the duties. The reasons quoted by him, if any, have not been made public.
But the general mood among the country’s jurists over the method and process of appointing to the highly influential Lok Pal Committee has been that of improper and demeaning.
Fali S Nariman said the same during his resignation from the committee. “In my humble view this is no way in which an institution as vital and important as Lokpal is to be constituted. I fear the most competent, most independent and most courageous persons will get overlooked in selection of Lokpal search panel,” Nariman said.
The Lok Pal committee appointment considers applications from sitting, retired judges. Justice P Sadasivam is understood to have written to several jurists seeking to know if they are interested and forward their applications. Justice HS Bedi and Justice B Sudershan Reddy have openly objected to the process of selection for such an important, influential post. “I have protested and written to Registrar General. These offices are to be offered and not sought. This is impropriety; it is demeaning that even sitting judges were asked to apply. You can’t ask people to apply who hold such high constitutional positions. I have asked that my letter be placed before the authority, where the original communication seeking applications emanated from,” said Justice Reddy.
As Congress has decided not to take the Ordinance route to Anti Graft bills, the establishment and appointment of Lok Pal system becomes a crucial face saving exercise just before the elections. Now the search committee chairman himself has decided to stay away from the process making the Congress red faced.