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Lokpal Search Committee head resigns

Posted on Mar 03 2014 | IBNS

New Delhi, Mar 3 : Head of the Lokpal Committee Search Panel Justice KT Thomas has pulled out from the panel, that was constituted to search for the members of the Lokpal or national anti-corruption ombudsman.

He has written to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) expressing inability to be part of the panel.

"The news that Sri. Fali Nariman recused himself from associating with the Search Committee was widely published as he found that "the current selection process would overlook the most competent, the most independent and the most courageous". When I learnt his reaction I wanted to know whether the scope of the Search Committee has been curtailed by the Rules. That is why I requested to forward a copy of the Rules to me," Thomas wrote in his letter to the PMO.

"When I went through the Rules I have come to realise that the work of the Search Committee is to pick out names of persons from the list provided by the Central Government (Department of Personnel and Training). The Search Committee cannot make any independent search to find out the most deserving persons to be included in the panel. Once the Search Committee gives the panel 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 the Act," he wrote.

He also wrote that he "wonders" whether a search committee is at all required. He said that the Search Committee's nominations can be vetoed by another Selection Committee headed by the Prime Minister.

"In the above situation, I have reservations in accepting the Chairmanship of the Search Committee. I do not consider it worthwhile to travel such a long distance (from my hometown Kottayam in Kerala far upto New Delhi) and spend many days to make a panel from the list forwarded by the Department of Personnel and Training of the Central Government," his letter stated.

"I write this letter to inform you that I withdraw my willingness to accept the office of the Chairperson of the Search Committee. I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to you," he said.

Justice Thomas retired from the Supreme Court in 2002.

Earlier, Senior Supreme Court advocate Fali Nariman had also refused to join the committee. In a letter to the Centre, Nariman had called the Lokpal selection process ludicrous and farcical.

The Lokpal is meant to include four former or serving judges and rest from non-judicial background.

The law that creates the Lokpal was passed by Parliament in December.

The need for an ombudsman empowered to investigate corrupt government officials was championed by activists Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal in 2012.

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