The Supreme Court today agreed to decide the constitutional validity of the amendment to the UP Lokayukta Act which was allegedly done to grant an extension of two years to incumbent Lokayukta Justice (retd) N K Mehrotra.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and asked it to file its response on a petition challenging the amendment in the Act.
The court passed the order on a petition by Lucknow-based lawyer Mohd Saeed Siddiqui who contended that the Act was amended for the sole purpose of granting extension to the incumbent Lokayukta.
“There was no provision in the UP Lokayukta Act that empowered the state government to extend the Ombudsman’s term or reappointing the incumbent after the expiry of the six-year term,” the petitioner contended.
“The act provides that the term for which Lokayukta shall hold office would be six years. Sub Section 3 of Section 5 provides that on ceasing to hold the office, the Lokayukta or Up-Lokayukta shall be ineligible for further appointment, whether as a Lokayukta or Up-lokayukta or in any other capacity under the government of Uttar Pradesh.
“Justice Mehrotra completed his term of six years on March 15, 2012 and ceased to hold the office thereafter. Further, he incurred disqualification under the Act,” he submitted in his petition.
Mehrotra was appointed as UP lokayukta on March 16, 2006 and his tenure ended on March 15. But on March 22, the state government promulgated an ordinance whereby the Act was amended and the term of the Lokayukta was extended to eight years effective from March 15.
Following Uttar Pradesh Governor’s approval, the UP Lokayukta (amendment ordinance) 2012 was later on promulgated.