Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter to PM Modi on Lokpal appointment
Full text of Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter to PM Modi, expressing disappointment that serious concerns raised in a previous letter on Lokpal appointment continue to go unaddressed
Dear Prime Minister,
I write this letter with reference to the Office Memorandum dated 29th March, 2018 of the Department of Personnel & Training requesting me to attend the meeting of the “Selection Committee” (under Section 4 of The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013) as a “Special Invitee” on March 01, 2018.
I would like to draw your kind attention to my earlier letter dated 28th February, 2018 which I had sent in response to a similar office memorandum requesting me to attend the meeting of the Selection Committee held on 1st March 2018 again as a “Special Invitee”.
It is deeply disappointing that not only did the earlier letter go unacknowledged, but also the serious concerns that were raised in that letter continue to go unaddressed as seen by the issuing of the latest office memorandum from DoPT.
For the sake of historical posterity and Constitutional propriety, it is important that I summarise those apprehensions in this communication as well.
- Firstly, inviting the leader of single largest opposition party as a “Special Invitee” is done with a singular intention of excluding the opinion of the opposition from the selection process of the Lokpal. The government is well aware that there is no provision in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act for a special invitee to be a member of the Selection Committee. An invitation as a “Special Invitee” without rights of participation, recording of opinion and voting in the procedure is only to mislead the nation and the people, rather than sincerely seeking the participation and opinion of the opposition. Therefore, to participate in this charade while your government runs roughshod over the intent and spirit of the Lokpal Act would amount to dereliction of my constitutional duty.
- The people of our nation should know that the government has wasted four precious years in the fight against corruption by not amending the Lokpal Act to include the Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in the Lok Sabha as a member of the Selection Committee under Section 4(1) of the said act. This would have established the bona fides of the government in fighting corruption before the people.
- The government’s double standards in this matter stand exposed by the fact that similar amendment was made to Delhi Special Police Establishment Act in 2014 itself, where Leader of the Single Largest Opposition Party was made a member of the Selection Committee governing the appointment of Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
- It is apparent that the appointment of Lokpal has not been accorded the same degree of importance or priority by your government. You would be aware that the Amendment Bills to the Lokayukat Act to include the Leader of Single Largest Opposition Party in the Selection Committee were moved and never approved by the Select Committee. Yet till date your government has never bothered to list the same for debate or voting. It is clear that the current exercise is merely a perfunctory gesture to assuage the letter of the Supreme Court’s direction.
- The whole nation watched the finance Bill being passed without any hesitation despite repeated disruption of the Parliament in the second half of the budget session that were entirely stage managed by this government clearly show that parliamentary processes are not sacred duty to be discharged, but inconveniences that must be managed. Having an intent and esteem to the principles enshrined in the Lokpal Act to include the Leader of the Single Largest Opposition party in the Selection Committee.
- The repeated conduct of the government in this matter both in the Supreme Court and now during this process of appointment defeats the intent to honour the letter and spirit of the Lokpal Act.
- The process of appointing the Lokpal under such circumstances would be vitiated if the voice of the Opposition is not included.
- If the government is, indeed, serious about ensuring that the Lokpal is appointed with the sancity it deserves, I would once again suggest that the government bring in the necessary amendment by way of an ordinance to include the voice of the opposition in this process.
Under these circumstances, I must once again respectfully decline the invite as “Special Invitee” to prevent any dilution of the letter and spirit of the Lokpal Act, 2013.