Lokayukta: HC seeks letters between Modi, Guv
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Last Updated: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 00:20
Ahmedabad: Gujarat High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to submit the correspondence between Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Governor Kamala Beniwal with regard to the ordinance seeking removal of the Chief Justice from the committee that finalises Lokayukta candidate.

The division bench of Justices Akil Kureshi and Sonia Gokani sought the confidential letters exchanged between Modi and Beniwal between August 18 to August 26, in a sealed cover.

The direction was issued after senior counsel Girish Patel told the High Court that state government had deliberately chosen not to place certain documents on record.

Appearing for Bhikhabhai Jethava, who filed the PIL seeking appointment of Lokayukta this August, advocate Patel argued that though Governor was bound to act on advice of the state government, she was justified in appointing R A Mehta as Lokayukta, because the government had grossly violated the Lokayukta Act by not making appointment to the post for more than seven years.

The government did not have a veto power to annul the Governor's decision, he added.

Patel accused Modi of converting the state government into "Chief Minister's government", violating parliamentary norms.

Modi delayed the appointment process because he wanted a man of his choice as the Lokayukta, Patel said.

The High Court was told that the Chief Minister, on August 18, had written to the Governor, seeking an ordinance to amend the Lokayukta Act to remove the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court from the selection panel.

Patel said the Governor responded on August 20, saying that such an ordinance would frustrate the Lokayukta Act, and undermine the Chief Justice's powers.

According to Patel, the Chief Minister wanted a panel comprising himself, the Home minister, Speaker of the Assembly, Leader of Opposition in Assembly, and an HC judge.

The draft was sent to the Governor, who probably thought that the ordinance would not only frustrate the spirit of the legislation but the six-year-long process for appointment of Lokayukta would go in vain, and hence she approved the name of Justice Mehta -- recommended by the Chief Justice, advocate Patel said.

The next day, Governor sent the amendment back, with the comment that the ordinance was an effort to frustrate the process, Patel said.

The bench then asked the government lawyer to place all documents, including the draft and letters, before the Court in a sealed cover on Friday.

Apart from Jethawa's PIL, the government has filed a petition challenging Mehta's appointment as Lokayukta. There are some other petitions on the issue too, and all have been clubbed.


First Published: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 00:20

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