A division bench of the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday ruled that only candidates picked by the Chief Justice of Karnataka for the posts of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta in the state will enjoy primacy in the selection process.
The bench passed the ruling in the course of the interpretation of laws in a case related to the appointment of a retired high court judge,Justice Chandrashekhariah,as the Upa-Lokayukta by the BJP government in the state a few months ago.
The division bench comprising Justices N Kumar and H S Kempanna quashed the appointment of Justice Chandrashekhariah with immediate effect on the grounds that his candidature had been recommended by Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda and not by the Chief Justice.
The court ruled that the decision-making process in the case of the appointment of the Upa-Lokayukta was not in conformity with law. It stated that the Chief Minister did not circulate the name of the candidate of his choice among the other constitutional functionaries whose opinion is sought for appointments and that he did not inform the Chief Justice either about his choice.
The Chief Minister appointed the Upa-Lok Ayukta of his choice by overruling the choice of Justice Ranga Vitallachar that was recommended by the Chief Justice of Karnataka,the court ruled.
It is clear that the process adopted by the Chief Minister was totally illegal and contrary to law and in the process has not recognised the primacy of recommendations of the Chief Justice, the bench said in its ruling.
It also laid down guidelines for the process of appointment of the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas keeping in mind the fact that the institution is one of integrity.
The court ruled that if there is a vacancy to be filled to the position of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta and the Chief Minister decides to fill the vacancy,he should communicate to the Chief Justice and ask him to recommend a suitable judge.