The Gujarat High Court today appeared to be divided on the appointment of Lokayukta by the Governor with one judge upholding it and another indicating she did not agree.
Dismissing the state government’s petition challenging the appointment of Justice R N Mehta as the Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal on August 25,Justice Akil Qureshi rejected the government’s contention that the Governor acted without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
The judge maintained this argument could not be held right in this case as it was a peculiar case.
But the other judge on the Division Bench,Justice Sonia Gokani,said,I do not completely agree with my fellow judge.
She started reading out her judgement but did not not complete it when the court rose for the day. She would continue tomorrow.
In his order,Justice Qureshi said the post of Lokayukta was lying vacant for the last eight years and there was a deadlock between the Chief Justice (of the High Court) and Chief Minister on the name of Justice Mehta.
When the Chief Justice suggested Justice Mehta’s name,the chief minister and his Council of Ministers rejected Mehta’s name. There was a deadlock between the two and in such a stage the opinion of the Chief Justice of High Court is supreme,Justice Qureshi said.
Justice Qureshi said since last the Lokayukta retired in 2003,the government did not begin the consultation process till 2006. And when the consultation process began in 2006,there was no no appointment till 2011,which is five years.
We are of the view that the post of Lokayukta has an important role to play in the present socio-economic situation and should not not lie vacant for a long, the judge said.
Going chronologically into the case history,Justice Sonia Gokani said the state government attempted twice to fill the vacant post of Lokayukta.
In 2006,she said the chief minister started the consultation process and the Chief Justice had sent a panel of names. From the panel the name of Justice K R Vyas was
finalised by the Council of Ministers and sent to the Governor,who had returned the file in 2009.
Again in 2010,the government made a request to the Chief Justice of the High Court who had finalised the name of Justice J R Vora which was sent to the Governor for approval. That was also rejected,she noted.