Days after the Haryana government appointed Kamaldeep Bhandari, wife of the judge hearing the Kathua rape case, as one of the State’s information commissioners, the issue has taken a political turn with Opposition parties terming the decision “unethical” and an attempt to influence the judiciary.
The BJP government, however, said that the decision was taken on merit after following due process.
On March 8 — just two days before the model code of conduct came into force for the Lok Sabha election — the Haryana government appointed Ms. Bhandari, Lieutenant-General K.J. Singh (retired) and Jai Singh Bishnoi as State Information Commissioners.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, former Leader of Opposition Abhay Singh Chautala and Forest Minister Rao Narbir Singh, who were part of the selection committee, picked the candidates from a list of names recommended by the search committee.
Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar on Monday said that Ms. Bhandari’s appointment was “clearly an attempt” by the BJP to influence institutions.
“We are not questioning the integrity of anyone, but this shows the immorality of the BJP government; how they are trying to influence sensitive issues such as rape of the girl child in Kathua. The Election Commission should take cognisance of the appointment and take appropriate action,” said Mr. Tanwar.
Ms. Bhandari was a member of the Right to Service Commission in Punjab during the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government.
The alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in January had sparked protests in Jammu and Kashmir and across India. The ensuing case saw ruling BJP leaders support the Hindu Ekta Manch, an outfit that has backed the accused in the case.
Aam Aadmi Party’s State president Naveen Jaihind said that BJP government’s intention have come under lens after this appointment. “There should be an independent enquiry into the appointment process as it apparently seems to be an attempt to influence the judiciary by the BJP,” said Mr. Naveen.
Haryana Chief Minister’s media advisor, Rajeev Jain said: “Tthe allegations are baseless and appointment of Kamaldeep Bhandari, who had applied for the post was done on merit. Due process was adopted while selecting the candidates.”