New Delhi: Even as the Congress finds itself in a spot of bother over the Lokpal Committee search panel after Justice KT Thomas resigned as its head, the Bharatiya Janata Party came out strongly against its rival party over the controversy. Thomas's quitting is a big blow to the Congress after noted advocate Fali Nariman, too, refused to join the committee.
Taking on the Congress, 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 party leader Arun Jaitley, too, held the government responsible for the usurping the power of the search committee. He said on Twitter, "Why are top legal luminaries resigning from Lokpal search committee? The government through DoPT has usurped the power of the search committee."
Jaitley's colleague Nirmala Seetharaman also slammed the Congress. "The process of appointing the Lokpal is severely stressed out. Getting opaque and manipulated? This after over four decades of waiting for one," she said.
Justice KT Thomas pulled out from the Lokpal panel on Monday and wrote to the Prime Minister's Office expressing his inability to be part of the panel. "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," he said in his letter to PMO.
"Also it's not necessary that the names forwarded by the committee will be finalised by the government. I felt that why should there be such a strain of travelling from the southern part of the country to Delhi. I expressed my difficulty and withdrew from the selection panel," he added.
Earlier, 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 search panel is to comprise of eight members.
Earlier, the BJP had objected to one of the Prime Ministers's nominees for the panel - PP Rao - accusing him of being pro-UPA 2.
Of the advertised posts for members in the Lokpal, four are for judicial and the remaining for non-judicial people. The PM-led selection committee has Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him and an eminent jurist, who could be nominated by the President or any of the members, as its members.
The chairperson and members shall be appointed by the President after obtaining the selection committee's recommendations.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, provides for the establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries.
Why r top Legal Luminaries resigning frm Lokpal Search Committee? The Government through DOPT has usurped the power of the Search Committee.— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) March 3, 2014
The process of appointing the Lok Pal is severely stressed out. Getting opaque & manipulated? This after over 4 decades of waiting for one!— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) March 3, 2014