Eminent jurist Fali Nariman has refused to be part of the process to select the names for various posts of Lokpal, saying he fears that the multi- layered procedure could overlook the most competent, independent and courageous persons.
In a letter to V Narayanasamy, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, Nariman said he declines the “honour” to be part of the committee.
“In my humble view, this is no way in which an institution as vital and as important as the Lokpal is to be constituted.
“The chairperson and members of the Lokpal as ultimately selected may well be projected as democratically chosen by a broad consensus from amongst two levels of selectors (upper and lower), but it is precisely for that reason that I do fear that the most competent the most independent and the most courageous will get overlooked,” he wrote.
Reacting to Nariman’s refusal, the Centre said all procedures had been followed for forming a search committee to recommend a panel of names for selection of chairperson and members of the anti-graft body.
“I would like to make it very clear. Transparent method has been followed. The process was followed very properly. As far as the selection of members of the search committee is concerned, Fali Nariman was one among the jurists who have been considered … It is for the person concerned either to accept or not to accept,” Narayanasamy said.
“Without going through his letter I cannot make any comment on that,” the minister said, adding that Nariman’s name was considered on the basis of other members’ suggestion.
“It is not the question of consulting him because the panel that had been prepared some names were there and thereafter we thought he (Nariman) would be able to serve the committee. Therefore his name was considered…,” he said.
“That does not mean that the procedure has not been followed. We cannot make any issue out of it. Out of eight members, some have given their consent. The communication (consent) has been received by our department. We will go for the next process,” he said.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for the establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries. The Centre had already got nominations from various individuals for becoming its chairperson and members.
Government had offered him to be a part of the search committee on February 21.
His name was proposed by a five-member selection committee to be a part of the eight member search committee under the Lokpal Act.
The search committee will scrutinize the applications received for the post of chairperson and eight members (four judicial and four non-judicial) and forward the names to the selection committee.
The selection committee comprises Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Supreme Court judge HL Dattu — a nominee of the Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and jurist P P Rao.
Swaraj was outvoted on the choice of Rao, whom she had described as a “Congress loyalist”.
She is believed to have recommended the names of Nariman and senior lawyer Harish Salve for the selection committee.