Kharge brought down the value of dissent: Jaitley

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New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday expressed his annoyance at Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge for his dissent to the appointment of Rishi Kumar Shukla as new CBI chief and accused him of using the weapon of dissent “excessively” and not “objectively”.

“Dissent in appointment in Collegium are rare. I concede to Kharge the right to dissent. The dissenter is an assertor. He values his views. He represents an alternative viewpoint. 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 said in his blog.

He said if Kharge dissents on every conceivable opportunity, namely on the appointment and transfer of Alok Verma and the appointment of Shukla in relation to the CBI directorship, it clearly establishes a pattern of his frame of mind.

“He uses the weapon of dissent excessively and not objectively. Using the instrument of dissent recklessly neutralizes its value. Dissents frequently used in administrative bodies like Collegiums compels independent observers not to take the dissent too seriously.

“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 its value and credibility,” he said.

Jaitley said that Kharge’s dissent in the matter of the transfer of Alok Verma was coloured by his political views because 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. He suffered from a bias and conflict of interest. Yet he did not recuse himself. Kharge has dissented a bit too frequently. The appointment of a CBI Director was never envisaged to be a political battle. Kharge has made it look like one,” he said.

Jaitley’s attack come in the wake of Kharge’s dissent to the appointment of Shukla as new CBI chief contending that 1983-batch IPS officer did not have any experience in investigating anti-corruption cases.

He said the appointment of the CBI Director was a sole prerogative of the government but it was felt that since investigation is an independent function, India’s primary investigating agency, the CBI, must maintain an arm’s length from the government.

“Hence the alternative opinion was voiced that the appointment should not be made by the government alone but by a collegium. Since the Congress, in 2014, was not a recognized opposition, falling below 10 per cent of the seats in the last general election, the government, maintaining the highest standards of fairness brought in an amendment wherein in the absence of a leader of Opposition, the leader of the largest party in the Opposition was made a part of the appointment collegium,” he said.

He said the position of 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.

“Kharge is a part of a Collegium, which discharges a governance function. Unfortunately, that does not seem to have happened,” he added.



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