Nariman declines to be part of Lokpal search panel

New Delhi, Feb 27: Senior lawyer Fali Nariman has declined to be a member of the panel for selecting India’s first ever Lokpal, saying the process was not suitable to choose the most competent or most courageous person.

In a letter to the prime minister’s office, Nariman wrote that he did not think the process was right to constitute a Lokpal or the anti-graft ombudsman.

“In my humble view this is no way in which an institution as vital and as important as the Lokpal should be constituted,” Nariman said.

He said 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 I do fear that the most competent, the most independent and the most courageous will get overlooked”, he wrote.

Nariman is one of the eight members of a search committee selected to prepare a panel that would help in selecting the chairperson and members of the Lokpal.

Minister of State in the PMO, V. Narayansamy said they followed the process for selecting “very properly”.

He said the members of the search committee are unanimously chosen.

“Fali Nariman is the jurist who has been considered,” he said, adding that he did not want to comment without going through the letter.

“It is for the person to accept it or not. However, this does not mean that the procedure has not been followed because we cannot make an issue out of these eight members,” he added.

Criticising the selection process, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said: “The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has no role in this appointment. It is only supposed to give administrative and logistic support.”

“The only role belongs to two bodies – the selection committee and the search committee. Their role is being diluted and taken over by the DoPT and I don’t think you have an effective Lokpal through this process.

“I am glad this issue has been flagged by someone as eminent as Fali Nariman and the government gets the message,” Jaitley said.