Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday accused Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge of dissenting regularly, and said that he has made the appointment of CBI director look like a political battle which was never envisaged.
Earlier on Saturday, Kharge wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving his dissent on the appointment of new CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla. Kharge alleging that the officer did not have experience in handling anti-corruption cases and the criterion for selection was diluted in violation of law and Supreme Court judgements.
Jaitley, in a blog, said the leader of the largest party in Opposition in the Lok Sabha , Kharge, "dissented once again" in the appointment of the new CBI Director.
"Kharge dissents regularly," Jaitley said in his post.
Jaitley reminded the Congress leader of how he dissented when Alok Verma was appointed CBI Director, dissented when Verma was transferred and has now dissented when Shukla has been appointed.
"The only thing constant in the High Powered Committee comprising of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition which deals with the CBI Director’s appointment and transfer, is the Kharge dissent," Jaitley said.
Kharge had sent a two-page dissent note to the prime minister this evening after the government announced the name of the 1983-batch officer and former Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police as the new CBI director.
Jaitley further said when the Leader of Opposition sits as a Member of the Collegium, he sheds off the political colour of his office as much as the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India shall both leave the authority of their respective domains and work exclusively towards appointing or transferring the Director on the criterion of merit or fairness.
"The position of Shri Kharge as the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, entitles him to sit in the Committee but the political colour of that office has to be left outside.
"Shri Kharge then is a part of a Collegium, which discharges a governance function. Unfortunately, that does not seem to have happened," said the minister, who had last month flown to the US for treatment of an unstated illness.
Dissents are a powerful instrument in democracy, he said, adding they are more commonly prevalent in judicial pronouncements.
Dissents are also a part of the parliamentary system particularly in the Legislative Committees. The dissenter places an alternative view point. Where Monetary policy Committees exists, dissents are occasionally given by Members.
"A dissenter challenges the majority. He does it on the basis of a call of conscience dictated by his fair mind. He puts his dissent on record so that it can be of value to the wisdom of the future generations.
"A dissent should never be a political tool. The right to dissent is sacrosanct and has to be sparingly used. If a dissenter dissents on every conceivable occasion he comes out as a person either motivated by collateral reasons or as a person lacking objectivity," Jaitley.
He further said using the instrument of dissent recklessly neutralises its value.
"The perpetual dissenter in a Collegium meant for appointments sends a message that he was included as a Member because of his capacity of Leader of the Opposition but he hasn’t been able to shed his role as an Opposition Member, even though now he is a part of a Government Committee. His dissent has diminished it value and credibility," the minister said.
He said Kharge’s dissent in the matter of the transfer of Alok Verma was coloured by his political views. He was a petitioner in the Supreme Court himself in support of Alok Verma.
He should have "recused himself" from the Committee since his views were known, Jaitley said.
"He suffered from a bias and conflict of interest. Yet he did not recuse himself," Jaitley said.
Kharge, he said has dissented "a bit too frequently" and many may wonder if Collegium’s are workable.
"The appointment of a CBI Director was never envisaged to be a political battle. Shri Kharge has made it look like one," the minister said.
During the panel meeting on Friday, Kharge had expressed his displeasure over the selection criterion adopted.
In the note to the prime minister, the Congress leader said the three-member committee, chaired by Prime Minister Modi and in which he is a member along with Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, has violated the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE) that governs the CBI and the Supreme Court judgements.
He said the criterion in selecting the CBI director has been diluted to include investigation experience only and not experience in investigating anti-corruption cases.
(With PTI inputs)