‘Gujarat Lokayukta`s appointment in breach of law’

An NGO supported Gujarat government`s decision to challenge in Supreme Court the appointment of Justice (retd) R A Mehta as the state Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal.

New Delhi: An NGO has come out in support of the Gujarat government`s decision to challenge before the Supreme Court the appointment of Justice (retd) R A Mehta as the state Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal saying it was in "breach of law" and "in defiance of the ministerial advice."

Appearing for Ahmedabad-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), senior counsel Soli Sorabjee told a bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan that "the Governor has acted in breach of the law laid down by the Supreme Court and in opposition to or defiance of the ministerial advice."
Assisted by advocate Unmesh Shukla, Sorabjee said, "The appointment of Lokayukta under the Gujarat Act cannot be compared to or equated with the appointment of a high court or the Supreme Court judge. The functions performed are qualitatively different."

"Lokayukta is not a judicial authority," they added in a written submission to the court.

The NCCL, in its petition filed through its President V K Saxena, contended that the governor has breached the law laid down by the apex court in Samsher Singh versus the State of Punjab, wherein it had ruled that the governors shall exercise the constitutional powers and functions only in accordance with the advice of the ministers.

The NGO, along with the Gujarat government, has filed the petition challenging the Gujarat High Court verdict upholding the appointment of Mehta as the Lokayukta by the Governor.

Earlier, the Gujarat Government had contended in the Supreme Court that the appointment of Mehta has breached the constitutional norms and was done without taking its consent.

The state government had said the governor has to act on the advice of the Cabinet and its consent is must for the appointment of Lokayukta.

It had argued that the appointment was done by Governor Beniwal without following due procedure in an unconstitutional manner.

The state government had also said the governor had exercised his personal discretion unilaterally and issuing of the warrant of appointment of Lokayukta by him was "unwarranted".

The Centre, however, has contended that there should not be any interference with the high court order and the appeal filed by the state government and the NGO was devoid of merit.

The governor had on August 25 last year appointed Justice Mehta to the post of Lokayukta, which had been lying vacant for the last eight years.

The high court had on January 18 rejected the Gujarat government`s plea against the appointment, three months after it had given a split verdict.

Justice V M Sahai, who decided the matter as a third judge had said the "pranks" played by the chief minister on the Lokayukta issue "demonstrates deconstruction of our democracy."