Justice (Rtd) R A Mehta,who was appointed as the Lokayukta of Gujarat,has refused to take charge of the post in the state. The decision comes as a major embarrassment for the Gujarat government who had challenged his appointment in the Supreme Court after the Gujarat High Court had upheld the decision.
Backing his decision,the Congress blamed the attitude of the Gujarat government. Party spokesperson Manish Tewari said,The attitude of the Gujarat government is such that he (Justice Mehta) won’t be able to function.
As per reports,Justice Mehta had declined the offer as the Gujarat government always questioned his capabilities. In a letter to Governor Kamla Beniwal and Chief Justice of the High Court,Justice Mehta has cited seven reasons which “confirmed his belief that he could not persuade himself to accept the office of Lokayukta”.
“I humbly withdraw my consent for the appointment as the Gujarat Lokayukta and decline to assume the office. Kindly accept my request and relieve me,” Mehta said.
“I frankly admit that I will not be able to fulfill the public duty,public need and high public expectation from the Lokayukta in the circumstances.
“How can I take the responsibility and become the Lokayukta when my objectivity and credibility are not accepted by the government and by the public functionaries whose conduct the Lokayukta may have to investigate? Findings and recommendations for or against a public functionary will always be under question mark,” Mehta said.
Indirectly blaming the Narendra Modi government for his decision,Mehta said that the consistent legal battle by challenging his appointment as anti-corruption watchdog was the reason for declining the post.
“Persistently and tenaciously approaching the Supreme Court (SLP,Review Petition,and Curative Petition) at huge public expense. It may be compared to the budget for the Lokayukta office or even of the High Court (which deals with lakhs of cases every year). It would be an eye-opener,” he wrote.
By-passing the Modi government,Gujarat governor Dr. Kamla Beniwal had appointed Mehta as Lokayukta on August 25,2011 as Gujarat did not have a Lokayukta since December 2003. This was followed by a legal battle which lasted almost two years as state government sought to overturn his appointment and contested it till the last remedy of a curative petition in the Supreme Court was rejected.
Mehta has also cited Gujarat government’s “reluctance” to notify his appointment in the state gazette even after its three petitions were rejected by the apex court.
“Even after three judgements of the Supreme Court,the reluctance of the State Government to notify the Lokayukta appointment in the official Gujarat Government gazette is surprising,but not unexpected,” he wrote.
(With inputs from PTI)