THE LONG controversy over the appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman for UP came to an end on Sunday with Justice (retd) Sanjay Misra taking oath as the seventh Lokayukta at Raj Bhavan.
While the oath was administered by Governor Ram Naik in the presence of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the presence of expelled SP leader Amar Singh at the ceremony came as a surprise to many. Leader of Opposition and BSP MLA Swami Prasad Maurya and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tiwari also attended the event.
Misra (63), who had retired on November 18, 2014 from the Allahabad High Court as a permanent judge, had joined the services in 1977. Before he took the oath, Principal Secretary (Vigilance) Debashish Panda informed the gathering that Misra has been appointed on the order of the Supreme Court.
On January 28, Supreme Court had appointed Misra as the Lokayukta by recalling its December 16, 2015 order that appointed Justice (retd) Virendra Singh to the post. The court had decided to intervene after the UP government failed to appoint a Lokayukta despite repeated reminders.
The six-year term of former Lokayukta N K Mehrotra had ended in March, 2012. However, the state government, through an amendment in the Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta Act, had extended his term to eight years. However, even this eight-year term had ended in March, 2014.
The appointment of Lokayukta had snowballed into a major controversy last year with the Governor refusing to accept the name of Justice (retd) Ravindra Singh, which the government had recommended. After files being exchanged a number of times, Naik rejected Ravindra Singh’s nominee on the ground that Allahabad High Court Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud had objected to his name. He also urged the CM to follow the proper selection process — as per which the CM, the leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice had to meet to discuss a panel of names. This led the UP government to exclude the Chief Justice from the selection process by passing an amendment bill, which is still pending with Naik. However, following repeated reminders from the court, the government started the process to select a Lokayukta afresh. But still, the selection committee comprising Chief Justice, Leader of Opposition and the CM could not decided on a name.
On December 16, the Supreme Court asked for a panel of names, which were under consideration of the committee, and chose Justice (retd) Virendra Singh as the new Lokayukta. But later, the Chief Justice wrote to the Governor, claiming that he had objected to Virendra Singh’s name and it was submitted to the court even after the CM promising otherwise. Later, Maurya also wrote to Naik, refuting Akhilesh’s claim that he he had agreed on Singh’s name.
Supreme Court on January 28 recalled its earlier order and appointed Sanjay Misra as the new Lokayukta. Misra was included in the panel of names, which was given to the court for consideration along with Virendra Singh’s name.