Governor Ram Naik Monday said he will “wait and watch” the steps taken by the state government for selection of a new Lokayukta in Uttar Pradesh on the basis of the existing Act before considering an amendment Bill pertaining to it passed by the Assembly and pending with him for approval.
Governor’s stand comes a day after Chief Justice DY Chandrachud of Allahabad High Court raised a question on the validity of the selection process adopted under the existing Lokayukta Act. The Chief Justice raised the issue in a meeting of the selection panel comprising him, Leader of Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav called at latter’s residence.
Sources informed the Chief Justice also wrote to Governor about the development, including its decision to proceed with the earlier Act, and his views about seeking legal opinion on the matter.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Governor Ram Naik said he has received the letter from Chief Justice and would wait for a communication from the Chief Minister before proceeding further on the Bill. “Now that the government has already started the process to consider names on the basis of the earlier Act, I would wait and see the further action that they are taking,” Governor told The Indian Express.
Asked about the objections raised by the Chief Justice in the Sunday meeting, Governor said, “The Chief Justice has written to me informing about the step and how he has placed his views before the selection committee about seeking legal opinion. I would proceed further only after receiving the communication from the Chief Minister about it”.
The state Assembly had last month passed the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2015, to amend the Lokayukta Act, dropping the Chief Justice’s name from the selection panel. The bill proposed a four-member selection committee comprising the CM, Leader of Opposition, Speaker and a retired judge to be selected in consultation by the CM and the Speaker.
The government brought in the amendment after the Governor rejected the name of Justice (retd) Ravindra Singh for the post as proposed by the CM. Naik cited that a proper meeting of the selection committee had not been held before finalising the name. He had also pointed out that the Chief Justice had expressed reservation in view of Singh’s apparent proximity to the ruling Samajwadi Party. The Bill is still awaiting the Governor’s assent.
Meanwhile, the decision on five nominees against the vacant seats in the Legislative Council is also likely to take some more time. Sources informed that a decision on MLC nomination is getting delayed as the Raj Bhavan is still waiting for a response from the income tax department on the raids it had conducted on properties and offices of real estate businessman Sanjay Seth. The Raj Bhavan, sources said, has already sent two reminders to the I-T department.
“I am keen to finalise the nomination and have thus sent a reminder. I would wait for the response from the I-T department,” said Governor.