Lokayukta: HC seeks letters between Modi, Guv

Last Updated: Thursday, October 6, 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.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 00:20

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