Gujarat gets Lokayukta after 10 years

Buch was sworn-in as Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal.

Written by Express News Service | Gandhinagar | Published: December 12, 2013 12:20:17 am

Justice (retd) D P Buch of the Gujarat High Court took oath of office at Raj Bhavan here on Wednesday as the new Lokayukta a post that had been lying vacant since December 2003.

After taking charge,Buch said he has not yet studied the Gujarat Lokayukta Act thoroughly and that he could not comment on how the Gujarat’s Act compares with that in other states. “I am not in a position to say what is there and what is not,and what should be there… It’s about implementing the law in its present form. I have not studied the Gujarat law thoroughly,(so) I cannot comment whether it is strong enough or not,” he said.

“If my predecessor has suggested any changes,it is up to the legislature to make them,” he added. “Some may say it is strong while others may differ. Whether to amend any Act or not is a matter of policy and of the government. We are supposed to work as per the law.”

Asked whether the charges of corruption levelled against the state government which were investigated by the Justice M B Shah Commission could be re-investigated,Buch said it’s a “matter of policy” and that matters of policy are decided by policy-makers.

“I have to act upon the complaints received in my office in the legal frame of the Lokayukta Act. I don’t know about pending complaints in the office or new complaints. If it qualifies for investigation under the Act and has sufficient evidence or evidence can be collected,then I will act accordingly,” he added.

His predecessor Justice (retd) S M Soni had disposed 31 of the 32 cases he had received in his time,some against former CM,late Amarsinh Chaudhary. When asked about his priorities after taking charge,Buch said,“There cannot be priorities here. It’s about investigating complaints and ensuring it is done within a time-frame.”

Earlier in the day,Buch was sworn-in as Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal. The swearing-in ceremony was attended by CM Narendra Modi and Speaker Vaju Vala,among others. Buch,72,was confirmed as Permanent Judge of the High Court in December 2001 and he retired in August 2004.

A native of Veraval in Junagadh district,Buch is a science graduate,who joined the judicial services as a Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate First Class.

The state government recommended his name for the post on November 27.

The issue of appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman had triggered a major controversy after the Governor appointed Justice (retd) R A Mehta as Lokayukta on August 25,2011. This had led to a long-drawn legal battle,with the Modi government alleging that Mehta’s appointment was done bypassing the state government. The Supreme Court later upheld the Governor’s decision. However, Justice Mehta refused to take charge.

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