The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha held the government's move of issuing advertisement for inviting applications for posts of Lokpal chairman and members was aimed at "completely destroying the power of the Selection Committee". (Agencies)
"I seriously contest the position on basis of which you have been advised with regard to the above," he said objecting to the government taking a stand that it has issued the advertisement under Section 4(5) of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act and rule 10 of the Rules framed under it.
"I would, therefore, urge you to kindly reconsider the position that the government has taken in this regard. How these positions are to be filed up is a discretion only of the Selection Committee and not the Search Committee," he told the Prime Minister.
In support of his contention, Jaitley quoted Section 4(4) of the Act which says, "The Selection Committee shall regulate its own procedure in a transparent manner for selecting the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal".
"The subtle distinction between the two has to be appreciated. If that is not done, section 4(4) will become superfluous," he said. Replying to Jaitley's earlier letter in which he contended that the advertisement issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) was "illegal", the Prime Minister said it was within the prescribed rules notified recently.
Singh quoted Rule 10 of the Lokpal Rules, 2014 notified recently to buttress his point, which states that the Search Committee shall prepare a panel of persons to be considered by the Selection Committee for appointment as the Chairperson and members of the Lokpal, from among the list provided by the central government in the DoPT.
Jaitley said since the Selection Committee has not been fully constituted and neither has it met till date and thus no procedure for selection of Chairperson or members of Lokpal has been decided yet.
"Section 4(5) has to be read harmoniously with section 4 (4). It cannot be read in a manner to make section 4(4) otiose and non-existent. A harmonious reading of the two provisions restricts the meaning of section 4(5) to mean that the Rules can only prescribe the manner of selection of panel of names in relation to the internal functioning of the Search Committee," he said.
Rule 10 has the effect of "completely destroying" the power of the Selection Committee under section 4(4), Jaitley said.
The Prime Minister had in his reply said, "It is not correct to say that the decision regarding selection by inviting applications or otherwise can only be taken by the Selection Committee.
While the Selection Committee shall be free to consider the names other than those recommended by the Search Committee, it does not necessarily follow that the Search Committee would be guided by the Selection Committee in the manner of selection of panel of names as Act clearly provides for rules to be framed in this regard," he wrote.
The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha held the government's move of issuing advertisement for inviting applications for posts of Lokpal chairman and members was aimed at "completely destroying the power of the Selection Committee".