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Why no Lokayukta for 7 years,HC asks state govt

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the state government asking it to explain the non-appointment of Lokayukta for the past seven years

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
August 19, 2011 3:54:27 am

* Notice comes on a petition by Bhikha Jethava,father of slain RTI activist Amit Jethava

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the state government asking it to explain the non-appointment of Lokayukta for the past seven years and more than a year after Additional Advocate General (AAG) assured the court that the steps for Lokayukta’s appointment had already been initiated.

A division bench comprising Justices Akil Kureshi and Sonia Gokani,which issued the notice,has kept the next hearing for August 29.

The notice came on a petition moved by Bhikha Jethava,father of slain RTI activist Amit Jethava who was shot dead outside the HC premises in July last year.

Through his advocates Anand Yagnik and Vijay Nangesh,the petitioner has contended that ever since the last Lokayukta’s term ended in 2003,the state government has kept the constitutional post vacant.

Jethava added the ministers and other government functionaries in Gujarat felt no accountability for their actions and omissions in the absence of a Lokayukta.

A similar petition was moved by late Amit Jethava in 2010. On June 16,2010,AAG Tushar Mehta had told the court that the process to appoint the Lokayukta had been initiated and the Cabinet decision had already been forwarded to the Governor for taking appropriate decision. Following this,the petition was disposed of by a division bench of Justices Bhagwati Prasad and J C Upadhayay,which called it “rendered infructuous”.

Now,Jethava Senior has argued that either the state government had developed “cold feet” in appointing Lokayukta or the statement of AAG was incorrect,which was very serious as it amounted to impropriety on the part of a constitutional authority.

The petitioner has cited a provision of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act according to which the ombudsman cannot inquire into any complaint after five years from the date on which the action complained is alleged to have been taken place.

“Therefore,non-appointment of Lokayukta for the last seven years has its own consequences since bonafide complaints of corruption,misdeeds,misuse and abuse of power by ministers and public functionaries cannot be gone into on account of this provision,” the petitioner said.

To back his point,Jethava Senior has also mentioned allocation of public,natural and community resources in favour of Adanis at Mundra in Kutch,allcoation of land for setting up Nano car plant at Sanand in favour of Tatas,allocation of coastal land for establishment of jetty and other industries all over the coast of Saurashtra and Kutch in favour of different industrial groups and houses and allocation of land to industrial houses in Gandhinagar capital region.

The petitioner has also demanded that the state government be directed to produce an action taken report towards the appointment of Lokayukta and the reasons for the delay after AAG’s statement last year.

As a final player,Jethava sought direction to the state government to appoint Lokayukta within a stipulated period of time.

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