Severely criticising the Gujarat Lokayukta Commission Bill 2013,Governor Dr Kamla Beniwal has said that the bill will reduce the Lokayukta to a caged parrot and leave the institution without credibility. The governor has returned the bill.
She has heavily critisised the state government in the bill by calling some provisions ridiculous and others mockery of whole judicial process.’
Over Justice (retired) R A Mehta’s refusal to take charge a month back citing similar reasons,she has expressed concern that as the bill gives primacy to CM over selection of Lokayukta,this will discourage many judges from taking up assignment.
The SC had upheld Mehta’s appointment cleared by the governor under existing Gujarat Lokayukta Act 1986. The state government had challenged the move for not taking consent of council of minister in appointment of Mehta. The new bill proposes to repeal the existing act.
In her remarks in the bill that she has returned,Beniwal has raised objections against a total of eight clauses,including one that gives Chief Minister absolute power in selection of Lokayukta and in the process belittling the significance of High Court Chief Justice.
Beniwal has sent back the bill passed by the BJP with majority in April by concluding that many of the provisions are detrimental to the interest of the public welfare.
She added that the proposed method cannot stand scrutiny of any rationality and is in clear violation of the mandate which has been reflected from several decisions of the SC from time to time.
She has further added,The bill gives primacy to the political executive in selecting Lokayukta. In such case it would be nothing more than a caged parrot and in such scenario the very institution might lose all credibility and respect of the people. Beside,this very fact may deter many judges from accepting such an assignment. There is a very possibility that the judiciary might decline to participate in the state managed show of selection mechanism and be subject to overruling by public functionaries.”
Calling provision of submission of investigation report to the state government ridiculous she remarked,The very provision appears to be ridiculous,because the ultimate power of acceptance of report are with the state government. There is a very possibility that cabinet may not accept the report under one excuse of other and may reject it altogether. This is nothing but mockery of the whole judicial process”.
She has raised the objection that even transparency has been scarifised by way of a clause that no person shall be required or authorised to furnish any information or answer any question or produce document to anyone. According to her in such case it would be easier for the state government to get the entire inquiry completed in an absolute secrecy.
Clause of fine of Rs 25,000 and imprisonment for a term of upto six months in case complaint found fake will discourage and threatens the complainant from filing any complaint.
Beniwal has also remarked that the bill has done an irrational act by defining constitutional authority like governor. She said,Governor is constitutional authority,whose role,responsibilities,qualifications of appointment,functions,powers,etc have been well defined in the constitution.
There is no need to define the constitutional authority. Such a provision in the bill is an attempt to belittle the dignity of the highest constitutional office of the state’.