UP Lokyukta’s appointment on hold as SC queries UP government

Virendra singhThe appointment of former judge of Allahabad High Court Justice Virendra Singh as Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta was today put on hold after the Supreme Court held a special sitting on a holiday and posed embarrassing questions to SP government, which was accused of concealing facts and “playing fraud”.

Hearing a fresh petition challenging the appointment, a bench comprising justices A K Goel and U U Lalit asked Uttar Pradesh government as to how the name of Justice Singh was placed before the bench concerned, which decided on Singh’s appointment, when the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, Justice D Y Chandrachud, had specifically made some objections to his name.

UP’s Advocate General (AAG) Gaurav Bhatia gave an undertaking in court that the Lokayukta’s swearing-in ceremony will not be held tomorrow and the state government would wait for the outcome of the fresh petition on the issue and respond to averments made in it when the court would hear the matter on January 4.

Later in the evening, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik deferred the oath taking of the new Lokayukta. State Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan had sought the Governor’s approval for keeping the swearing in abeyance, a Raj Bhawan release said in Lucknow.

In an unusual order, apex court had, on December 16, exercised its constitutional power and appointed Justice Singh as Lokayukta by recording failures of the panel, comprising the Chief Minister, the leader of Opposition and the HC Chief Justice, in selecting the chief of ombudsman despite orders.

The bench today took note of the fresh petition filed by UP resident Sachidanand Gupta that immediately after the appointment, the Chief Justice of the High Court had written a letter to Governor Ram Naik expressing his displeasure against the state government for not disclosing the true facts that he had some reservations on Singh’s name.

After hearing submissions of advocate Kamini Jaiswal, the bench put some searching questions to AAG Gaurav Bhatia asking that why there has been no denial of stated position taken by the Chief Justice and widely reported in the media.

Bhatia was given an opportunity to seek instruction and respond to the queries of the Bench which re-assembled after a break of ten minutes. The AAG then gave the undertaking.

The fresh plea seeks a direction to quash a December 18 order of the government appointing Justice Singh as Lokayukta.

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