Governor Dr Kamla Beniwal has returned the Gujarat Lokayukta Commission Bill 2013 to the government. The development promises to make the upcoming monsoon session a stormy one and pitch the two authorities against each other once again.
It is also a setback of sorts for the state government which was hoping to appoint a new Lokayukta after Justice (retd) RA Mehta refused to accept the post citing a number of reasons,including his lack of faith in the current government,in a letter to Beniwal,even after the Supreme Court upheld his appointment. Gujarat loser in vitiated lokayukta tussle
In a two-page document handed over in a sealed cover,Beniwal has put her remarks on a couple of clauses,including appointment of Lokayukta and at least four Uplokyuktas by a selection committee chaired by the Chief Minister,which undermines the role of the High Court Chief Justice in the process.
According to sources,the Governor has also raised objections over presenting the investigation report to the council of ministers and not directly to the Assembly,which redefines the authority and appointment of the state Lokayukta.
The Governor has returned the Bill with special remarks, said state government spokesperson and Finance Minister Nitin Patel,adding that the remarks will be discussed in the monsoon session of the Assembly. He,however,refused to comment on the nature of the remarks.
The Governor has returned the new Bill a month after the state government lost the case in the Supreme Court which upheld the appointment of Justice Mehta as Lokayukta.
The government had challenged his appointment,which was done under the existing Lokayukta Act 1986,for not consulting the council of ministers over the issue. The new Bill proposes to repeal the existing Gujarat Lokayukta Act 1986.
The SC had upheld appointment of Mehta by the Governor by giving primacy to the opinion of HC Chief Justice considering him as eligible for the post,despite objection from the council of ministers. The new Bill proposes to make a High Court Judge nominated by the Chief Justice as one of the members of the selection committee.
The selection committee,as per the new Bill,will include a judge of the High Court,nominated by the Chief Justice,along with the Speaker,a minister,Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and Vigilance Commissioner of the state. It is apparent that the new Bill proposes to do away with the role of Chief Justice in appointment procedure.
In April,the government introduced the new Bill maintaining that it was formulated in keeping with Beniwals observations when she returned the Gujarat Lokayukta Bill (Amendment) 2011.