Lokayukta appointment row: modi govt moves sc to challenge g

Dy Advocate General Punjab & Haryana High Court Chandigarh

AHMEDABAD: The Narendra Modi government on Thursday moved Supreme Court to challenge Gujarat high court upholding the appointment of Lokayukta by the governor.

On Wednesday, the Gujarat High Court upheld the appointment of Lokayukta by the Governor while sharply criticising the chief minister for his "pranks" that had sparked a "constitutional mini crisis".

Rejecting the state government's plea, three months after it gave a split verdict, Justice V M Sahai held that Modi's "questionable conduct" of "stonewalling" the appointment of Justice (retd) R A Mehta as Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal threatened the rule of law.

Justice Sahai, who was given the task of hearing the challenge against the appointment of Lokayukta following the split verdict of a two-member bench, described Modi's refusal to accept Justice Mehta's appointment as advised by the Gujarat High Court Chief Justice as "spiteful and challenging".

He said the action demonstrated a "false sense of invincibility" on Modi's part.

In strong observations, the judge held that the Chief Minister's effort to metastasise the procedure for appointment of Lokayukta by issuing an ordinance were "deprave and truculent" actions.

"The pranks of the Chief Minister who is the head of the Council of Ministers demonstrates deconstruction of our democracy, and the questionable conduct of stonewalling the appointment of justice Mehta as Lokayukta threatened the rule of law," he said.

The Gujarat government said it would appeal against the 2 to 1 majority decision in the Supreme Court after seeking legal advice.

Modi had maintained that the Governor acted unconstitutionally in selecting the ombudsman as the state government had not been consulted.

Beniwal had appointed Justice Mehta to the post of Lokayukta on August 25 triggering a confrontation with the state government. The post had been lying vacant for eight years prior to that since November 2003.

"I could not persuade myself, that the writ petitions be allowed, and agree with the opinion of Justice Sonia Gokani," said Justice Sahai.

"I am in complete agreement with the view taken by Justice Akil Kureshi that these writ petitions are to be dismissed. I do not find any merit in these writ petitions, accordingly, the writ petitions are dismissed," he added.
 
SOURCE: The Times of India
 
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