Lokayukta: It’s Narendra Modi vs Gujarat Governor again

Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal’s move to return the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013, passed by the state Assembly in April this year, has set the stage for fresh confrontation with Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Last Updated: Sep 03, 2013, 11:51 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal’s move to return the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013, passed by the state Assembly in April this year, has set the stage for fresh confrontation with Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

“The Governor has not given her assent to Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013, which was passed in the state Assembly in April this year, and has sent it back to the government for review,” state government spokesperson and Finance Minister Nitin Patel told a news agency today.

Beniwal’s objections to the new bill were expected as the bill aims to curtail the power of Governor and Chief Justice of the High Court in the appointment of the corruption watchdog.

The Modi government and the Governor had been at loggerheads on the issue of appointment of Lokayukta in the state.

The Governor, bypassing the state government, had appointed Justice (retd) RA Mehta as Lokayukta on August 25, 2011 to a post which was lying vacant for last eight years then.

The Governor had appointed Justice (retired) RA Mehta as the Lokayukta and the move prompted the government to mount a fierce legal battle. However, the government lost the cases both in the Gujarat high court as well as the Supreme Court.

The apex court upheld the name of justice Mehta declaring that the chief justice of the high court had primacy and asked the government to start the process of filling up the post. However, the government filed a review petition, which was also turned down by the court last month.

The government had staunchly opposed Mehta’s name, accusing him of being associated with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which were against the Modi government. The then chief justice of Gujarat high court, SJ Mukhopadhyay, however, had said Mehta was fit for the post and he was a man of integrity.