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Now, Lokpal search panel loses its head

Now, Lokpal search panel loses its head
Thomas was entrusted with the task of constituting a panel of names for the nine members of the Lokpal or national anti-corruption ombudsman. He wrote to the prime minister’s office expressing his inability to be part of the committee.

‘I have decided to withdraw from the search committee after I studied the rules. The selection committee itself can find out the persons from the list of central government, what the search committee is expected to do and forward the list to the government,’ said Thomas in the letter to PMO.

‘Also it’s not necessary that the names forwarded by the committee will be finalised by the government. I feel why should there be such a strain of travelling from the southern part of the country to Delhi. I express my difficulty and withdraw from the selection panel,’ added Thomas.

Thomas complained that the committee he was asked to chair cannot make any independent search to find out the most deserving persons, but has to restrict its review to a list of candidates submitted by the central government. ‘I wonder why there should be a search committee at all,’ he added, pointing out that the search committee’s nominations can be vetoed by another selection committee headed by the prime minister. Justice Thomas retired from the Supreme Court in 2002.

Thomas is the second person to opt out of the panel, after last week noted jurist Fali Nariman refused the government’s invite to be a part of the committee. In a letter to the Centre, Nariman had called the Lokpal selection process ludicrous and farcical.

The search panel comprises of eight members. The Lokpal is meant to include four former or serving judges. Famous legal experts have objected to the fact that judges have been asked to apply for the posts.

Slamming the Congress on this issue, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said: ‘The Congress wants to appoint a Lokpal while they are in power as their cases will go to the Lokpal. They want to do it now so that they can get some relief. But it is clear that no one likes the manner in which it is being done.’

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, held the government responsible for usurping the power of the search committee. He tweeted on Monday: ‘Why are top legal luminaries resigning from Lokpal search committee? The government through DoPT has usurped the power of the search committee.’
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