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K.T. Thomas refuses to head Lokpal search panel

In yet another embarrassment to the government, former Supreme Court judge K.T. Thomas on Monday turned down the offer to head Lokpal search committee, days after jurist Fali Nariman opted out of the panel.

“I have written to Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) expressing disinclination to head Lokpal search committee,” former Judge Thomas told PTI on phone from Kottayam, Kerala.

“The reason is when I went through the rules, our committee which is called the search committee was to recommend names to select committee. The select committee need or need not to accept those names. So it was not worth while to have this search committee,” the former judge said.

When asked whether the recent refusal from Nariman to be part of the search committee had any role to play in his decision, former Judge Thomas said, “It was not for the same reason”.

“It (Nariman’s refusal) became a point to go through the rules whether it was worth while to be on the committee or not,” he said.

Justice Thomas was a judge in the apex court between March 29, 1996 and January 1, 2002.

Fali Nariman had recently also refused to be part of the Lokpal search panel, voicing fears that the best will be overlooked by the multi-layered procedure.

The eight-member search committee is mandated to prepare a panel of persons to be considered by the Selection Committee headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal.

The Selection Committee has as members the Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries. The Centre had already got nominations from various individuals for becoming its chairperson and members.

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