This Article is From Mar 04, 2014

Justice KT Thomas' letter to Prime Minister's Office on opting out of Lokpal search panel

New Delhi: Justice KT Thomas, heading the panel tasked to search for the nine members who will be part of the Lokpal or the anti-corruption national ombudsman, has withdrawn from the committee. In a letter to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Justice Thomas, a former judge of the Supreme Court, has withdrawn his consent to head the panel.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Thank you for the copy of the Rules faxed by you.  I went through the Rules.

The news that Sri. Fali Nariman recused himself from associating with the Search Committee was widely published as he found that "the current selection process would overlook the most competent, the most independent and the most courageous". When I learnt his reaction I wanted to know whether the scope of the Search Committee has been curtailed by the Rules. That is why I requested to forward a copy of the Rules to me.

When I went through the Rules I have come to realise that the work of the Search Committee is to pick out names of persons from the list provided by the Central Government (Department of Personnel and Training) The Search Committee cannot make any independent search to find out the most deserving persons to be included in the panel. Once the Search Committee gives the panel it is for the Selection Committee to select the persons for appointment as members of the Lokpal.  In doing so the Selection Committee is not bound to take any one from the panel prepared by the Search Committee as could be discerned from the second proviso to Section 4(3) of the Act.

I wonder why there should be a Search Committee at all, much less, the arduous work to be undertaken by the members of such a Committee when the Selection Committee itself can decide on who should be the members of Lokpal.

That apart, the requirement of seeking applications from persons to be considered as members of Lokpal has already been widely criticized. No doubt, it would deter many deserving persons being brought within the ambit of consideration.

In the above situation, I have reservations in accepting the Chairmanship of the Search Committee. I do not consider it worthwhile to travel such a long distance (from my hometown Kottayam in Kerala far upto New Delhi)  and spend many days to make a panel from the list forwarded  by the Department of Personnel and Training of the Central Government.

I write this letter to inform you that I withdraw my willingness to accept the office of the Chairperson of the Search Committee. I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.