HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Govt relaxes rules, gets going on lokpal appointments

Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 03, 2014
First Published: 00:58 IST(3/9/2014) | Last Updated: 01:04 IST(3/9/2014)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the lokpal search committee a free hand to shortlist candidates to be members of the anti-corruption watchdog, doing away with a controversial provision that prompted two eminent jurists to quit the panel.

Fali S Nariman quit in March, complaining that “the most competent, the most independent and most courageous” would get overlooked due to the rules. A day later, former Supreme Court judge justice KT Thomas, who headed the panel, opted out.

The Modi government overhauled the lokpal search committee rules — framed by the previous regime — over the weekend to set the ball rolling for the key appointments.

“The provision requiring the panel to shortlist names from amongst the list of persons provided by the central government has been removed. Now, the search committee will be free to consider any eminent person and adopt any norm to prepare the shortlist,” a government official said.

The new rules came into force on Saturday.

Other contentious provisions that required everyone including judges to apply for the job and made a secretary-rank a prerequisite for government officials have also been done away with.

The department of personnel and training has also relaxed preconditions that necessitated the search panel to give at least five names for the chairman’s post and at least three for each member. “This requirement has now been made desirable, but not necessary,” the official told HT on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

“The new rules have come into force... The government shall appoint members of the search panel soon,” a source told HT. The PM cleared the changes before leaving for Japan.

Under the lokpal law, the government has to set up a search committee to shortlist candidates. A selection panel headed by the PM will pick the chairperson and the members from the list.

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