Justice JS Verma, the head of the panel that was constituted in the aftermath of the horrific Delhi gangrape to suggest reforms in anti-sexual harassment laws, has made a startling claim. In an interview to Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate, the former Chief Justice of India said that Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, the most important stakeholder in the issue, did not interact with the panel even once during the one month period that it took to prepare and submit its report.
Justice Verma added that the panel had been constituted upon instructions from the Prime Minister, who chose to convey the decision through Finance Minister P Chidambaram, rather than Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shine.
Below is the transcript of the excerpt from the interview.
Karan Thapar: How exactly was your committee set up? Who rang up? Who briefed you? Who instructed you?
Justice JS Verma: Mr Chidambaram, who is not the home minister, he rang me up on December 23 afternoon, apparently at the behest of the Prime Minister and persuaded me to accpet chairing this committee.
Karan Thapar: So the telephone conversation and the instructions came from Chidambaram, not from Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde?
Justice JS Verma: No.. Home Minister Shinde... we haven't talked to each other till today.
Karan Thapar: At all?
Justice JS Verma: At all.
Karan Thapar: So in other words, the Prime Minister apparently as you said, instructed Mr Chidambaram who I believe, rang you from his constituency.
Justice JS Verma: Yes. He was not in Delhi. He said, 'I am in my constituency, but then this is what request I have to make'.
Karan Thapar: So the core central figure in setting up the Justice JS Verma Committee was Chidambaram, not the Home Minister.
Justice JS Verma: Must be the Prime Minister who spoke through Chidambaram.
Karan Thapar: And just to clarify, you also said you had no dealings with the Home Minister at all.
Justice JS Verma: Till today, we have had no conversation.
Karan Thapar: None at all?
Justice JS Verma: None.