'Prez should oversee Lokpal appointments'

'Prez should oversee Lokpal appointments'

Peeved at a prime minister-led panel’s decision to appoint “Congress loyalist” and senior lawyer P P Rao to the Lokpal appointment committee, the BJP has decided to seek intervention of President Pranab Mukherjee.

The party wanted the UPA government to evolve a consensus on an eminent jurist, instead of imposing a candidate by a sheer majority.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh headed the four-member selection committee, also comprising the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, Lok Sabha Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition in the lower House. On Monday, the prime minister convened a meeting of the members at his 7, Race Course Road office-cum-residence to pick an eminent jurist from a pool of seven members that included mostly academicians like Jawahar Bhavan chief Mohan Gopal and three jurists, Fali S Nariman, K Parasharan and P P Rao. Supreme Court judge H L Dattu represented the Chief Justice of India in the meeting. Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who was present at the meeting, opposed Rao’s name proposed by the prime minister and seconded by Speaker Meira Kumar and Justice Dattu. She, instead suggested the name of K Parasharan, who was appointed to the Rajya Sabha by the UPA government under the eminent personalities category. But the prime minister did not agree and merely said: “We respect him.”

The five-member committee will appoint a chairman and members to the anti-corruption body.

“I gave three options to the prime minister to have a consensus candidate for the jurist slot as it would not send a right signal to people since it has already taken 40 years to establish Lokpal. But, he seemed to have come prepared with Rao’s name,” Swaraj told reporters. 

She requested the prime minister to defer the meeting to another day to evolve a consensus and include more jurists in the list. 

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