In yet another embarrassment to the Congress-led UPA Government, former Supreme Court Judge Justice K T Thomas has refused to accept an offer to head the Lokpal search panel. This comes close on the heels of eminent jurist Fali S Nariman opting out of the committee.
In a letter to V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Justice Thomas said the committee could not make an independent search for deserving persons as it was mandated to pick names provided by the Centre (the Department of Personnel and Training). “Once the search committee gives the panel (of names), it is for the selection committee to select the persons for appointment as members of the Lokpal. In doing so, the selection committee is not bound to take any one from the panel prepared by the search committee as could be discerned from the second proviso to Section 4 (3) of Act,” he pointed out in the letter.
He also questioned the logic behind having a search committee. The panel is given the mandate to prepare a list of persons to be considered by the Selection Committee headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal. “I wonder, why there should be a search committee at all, much less, the arduous work to be undertaken by the members of such a committee, when the selection committee itself can decide on who should be the members of the Lokpal. That apart, the requirement of seeking applications from the persons to be considered as members of the Lokpal has already been widely criticised,” he said.