The Gujarat government has moved the Supreme Court, seeking review of its judgment that had upheld the appointment of retired judge R A Mehta as Lokayukta. The verdict on January 2 had dismissed all objections against the selection process and allegations that he was biased against the government.
It held that the appointment of the former high court judge as valid in law in view of the “primacy of opinion” of the high court chief justice, who, besides Governor Kamla Beniwal and the leader of opposition, had approved his selection.
In its review petition, the Gujarat government has relied upon a verdict delivered by another Bench of the apex court on January 11 over appointment of the Upa Lokayukta in Karnataka.
The review petition states there is divergence of views in the court’s order on the Gujarat Lokayukta’s appointment and its order on the Karnataka Upa Lokayukta’s appointment.
“It is pertinent to note that the propositions of law laid down in both the said judgments are very much different while dealing with similar provisions relating to the appointment of Lokayukta in Gujarat and Upa Lokayukta in Karnataka respectively,” according to the petition.
The government has argued that Section 3 of the Lokayukta Act is identical in both Gujarat and Karnataka. It further said that the apex court’s order in the Gujarat Lokayukta issue gives the predominant role to the chief justice while its order of January 11 seeks to grant equal status to all constitutional functionaries involved in the constitutional process.
“There is nothing in the law to suggest that their (of any other constitutional authority involved in the selection process) should be subordinated to the opinion of the chief justice or that the chief justice can veto their views. The impugned judgment finds the role of other constitutional functionaries referred to in Section 3 of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act as subordinated to the opinion of the chief justice,” stated the petition.