Millennium Post

Govt, oppn at loggerheads over appointment of lawyer PP Rao to Lokpal panel

In the turn of events reminiscent of BJP's opposition to the appointment of P J Thomas as chief vigilance commissioner two years ago, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj refused to back the government nominee in the category of eminent jurist in the Lokpal panel and registered her dissent during the proceedings of the meeting last night, sources said.

Swaraj was outvoted with three votes going in favour of the government nominee in the meeting at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence to select the fifth member of the panel, they said.

The leader of opposition had opposed Rao's name, saying he has been a 'Congress loyalist' and instead proposed the name of former attorney general K Parasaran.

She demanded that the panel should be 'free from such people' and said it should have 'apolitical people' and should not be made a 'captive body', according to the sources.

Sources close to her said Swaraj had said that since this is the first time the anti-corruption ombudsman was being appointed in the country, there should be unanimity on the appointments.

She is believed to have suggested the names of eminent jurists Fali Nariman and Harish Salve for the key panel and even said to bring unanimity in the decision, another meeting could be held and a fresh list of names be worked out.

The sources said despite her opposition, the other three members of the selection committee - the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Supreme Court judge H L Dattu, who has been nominated by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, gave a go-ahead to Rao's membership.
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