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Judges divided on Gujarat Lokayukta’s appointment

In a setback to the Narendra Modi government, a two-judge bench of the Gujarat High Court Monday delivered a split verdict on the government’s plea questioning the appointment of R.A. Mehta as the Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal.

While Justice Akil Kureshi upheld the appointment of Mehta, Justice Sonia Gokani disagreed. The case will now go to a larger bench.

The government questioned the appointment of Mehta on the grounds that the governor did not consult it on the matter.

Mehta was appointed Lokayukta Aug 26. For seven years prior to that, the state did not have an ombudsman.

Justice Kureshi said that any advice by the council of ministers in the case would have been unconstitutional.

The governor had reportedly consulted legal experts before appointing Mehta. The opposition Congress party had been pleading for the appointment of an ombudsman.

To protest against Mehta’s appointment, a delegation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, led by leader L.K. Advani, submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil urging her to scrap the posting order.

Modi approached the high court petitioning against the appointment. He had also written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against Mehta’s appointment.

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