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Nariman stays off Lokpal cell

New Delhi, Feb. 27: Eminent lawyer Fali Nariman today refused to be on the search panel that would have advised the Lokpal selection committee to choose members for the anti-corruption body.

In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office, Nariman said the “most competent, most independent and most courageous people will be overlooked”, but didn’t elaborate.

Earlier this month, Sushma Swaraj, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, had objected to the choice of P.P. Rao as the fifth member of the search panel, saying the jurist was a Congress loyalist.

The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and four judicial and four non-judicial members.

According to the Lokpal Act, the chairperson and members shall be appointed by the President on the basis of recommendations of the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the leader of Opposition in the House, the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist.

For selecting the chairperson and the members, the selection committee shall constitute a search panel of at least seven persons. Nariman has refused to be on this search panel.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Sushma’s counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, has also criticised the government for the way the Lokpal was being set up. Jaitley has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh objecting to the advertisement put out by the department of personnel and training inviting applications from aspiring members.

The department on January 17 had put out the advertisement outlining the format of application although the selection panel had not met even once till then, Jaitley said. “It is regrettable that the outgoing UPA government is in a hurry to make (the) appointment(s) on (the) eve of elections,” Jaitley said in a statement today.

Minister of state for personnel V. Narayanasamy said the process followed has been “transparent”.