The Karnataka High Court gave two days’ time to Advocate-General S. Vijay Shankar to get instructions from the government in appointment of Lokayukta and also pointed out that “the Government is violating the Karnataka Lokayukta Act”.
Observing that the “public is getting restless” because of the failure to appoint the Lokayukta for the past 10 months, the Karnataka High Court on Monday told the Advocate-General that initiating the process of appointment was “a basic modicum of geniality” expected of the State government.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Aravind Kumar also orally observed that the pending appeal filed by the State government in the Supreme Court challenging the guidelines for selection of the Lokayukta and Upalokayukta laid down by another Division Bench of the High Court was “irrelevant” for starting the process of appointment of the Lokayukta.
The Bench gave two days’ time to Advocate-General S. Vijay Shankar to get instructions from the government in this regard while also pointing out that “the Government is violating the Karnataka Lokayukta Act”.
The Bench was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by H.S. Neelakantappa on the delay in appointing the Lokayukta.
When Mr. Shankar told the Bench that the State had challenged in the Supreme Court the guidelines that give primacy to the Chief Justice to suggest a name [for Lokayukta and Upalokayukta] instead of allowing all other constitutional functionaries an opportunity to suggest a name as per the procedure followed earlier, the Bench asked whether it meant that the name suggested by the Chief Justice would not be accepted.
“You [State] are hiding behind the judgment of the High Court for not appointing the Lokayukta. You are using that as a screen. We see no reason not to start the process. The question of primacy arises when there is no consensus on the name suggested by the Chief Justice… Unless you have already decided that whatever name the Chief Justice puts up will be shot down… Are you expecting a conflict?” the Bench asked.
Seeking clarification from the Advocate-General on statements made by the Chief Minister and the Law Minister on the issue of appointment, the Bench also said that “you are giving assurance but not appointing anyone. That is what the public also cannot appreciate. The public is getting restless on the issue.”
Earlier when Mr. Shankar pointed out that State’s appeal would come up for hearing before the Supreme Court on August 6 and the Government would take action thereafter, the Bench asked him whether the Supreme Court would decide the appeal on that day.
The Bench adjourned the hearing till Wednesday after Mr. Shankar sought a couple of days’ time to advise the Government.