Union minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday accused Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge of excessive dissent and making the appointment of the Central Bureau of Investigation director look like a political battle. Kharge had failed to leave his “political colour” while on a panel to select the director, Jaitley said.
“Kharge dissents regularly,” Jaitley wrote in a Facebook post titled “Has Mr Kharge Brought Down The Value Of Dissent”. He had “dissented once again” in the appointment of the new CBI director on Saturday, Jaitley said.
A selection panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appointed Rishi Kumar Shukla, a 1983-batch Indian Police Service officer, to the post of the CBI director on Saturday. Kharge is on the panel as he is the leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is the third member.
Kharge disagreed with the choice and wrote to Modi to express his objection. In his dissent note, he reportedly said the officer lacks experience in working in anti-corruption investigations and the criterion for selection was diluted in violation of law and Supreme Court judgements.
Jaitley recalled that Kharge had also differed with the selection of Alok Verma as the previous CBI chief, had expressed dissent when he was transferred, and has now dissented when Shukla has been appointed.
“The only thing constant in the High Powered Committee, comprising 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 wrote.
“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,” said Jaitley. “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.”
Jaitley, who is undergoing treatment in the United States, said dissent is a powerful instrument in democracy and a dissenter brings up an alternative point of view. “A dissenter challenges the majority. He does it on the basis of a call of conscience dictated by his fair mind,” Jaitley said. “He puts his dissent on record so that it can be of value to the wisdom of the future generations.”
However, dissent should never be a political tool, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader said. “The right to dissent is sacrosanct and has to be sparingly used,” he wrote. “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 alleged that Kharge’s “perpetual dissent” has “diminished its value and credibility”. “The appointment of a CBI director was never envisaged to be a political battle,” he said. “Shri Kharge has made it look like one.”