Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lokayukta appointment

After long legal battle Justice Mehta yet to give nod for new role

Supreme Court has upheld his appointment despite stiff opposition from state govt, but Justice Mehta has kept everyone guessing

Ahmedabad Mirror Bureau

    Looks like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will have the last laugh on the lokayukta issue. After a year-long legal battle that saw his government vociferously protesting the name of Justice (retd) R A Mehta proposed by Gujarat governor and seconded by the Opposition Congress party and subsequently the Supreme Court upholding his appointment, it seems Justice Mehta is not keen to take over as the lokayukta.
    Justice Mehta becomes the second consecutive retired Gujarat High Court judge who has reportedly expressed unwillingness to assume the position. This has led to serious question as to why are High Court-appointed retired judges not willing to become lokayukta in Modi’s Gujarat.
    The state government reportedly approached Justice Mehta about a week back, requesting him to assume office following the Supreme Court judgment of January 2, he remained non-committal.
    Though he refused comment to M i r r o ron the issue, well-placed sources in Delhi told this newspaper, “Justice Mehta is not keen and has requested a better replacement to be looked out for. He has not
cited any specific reason but requested to be excused.”So far crores of rupees has been spent on the legalities of the appointment with the state government hiring nearly 50 legal luminaries in the country to stall the appointment of Justice Mehta as the lokayukta.
Governor Kamla Beniwal had shocked the nation by appointing a lokayukta without consulting the chief minister and his cabinet on August 25, 2011. She had claimed that since Modi government had consistently failed to go ahead with appointment, she used her discretionary power to appoint the lokayukta. The governor was dubbed as a Congress puppet by the state government and her action declared “unconstitutional” by it.
    This case became a huge controversy when a high court bench gave a split verdict with a judge upholdingthegovernor’
sdecisionwhiletheother allowingthestategovernment’splea.Thecasewas then referred to a single judge who upheld the governor’s decision.