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Gujarat governor, government on collision course on Lokayukta

Friday August 26, 2011 08:26:50 PM, IANS

Gandhinagar: The Gujarat governor and the government Friday seemed to be on a collision course after the former appointed retired high court judge R.A. Mehta as the state's new Lokayukta and the latter challenged it in the high court.

Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Shaktisinh Gohil, who led a delegation to Governor Kamala Beniwal to press for an appointment to the post vacant for nearly seven years, said after the meeting that the governor has already issued the notification appointing Mehta.

Mehta's name was suggested by the state's chief justice after the state failed to respond to her reminders to this effect, he said.

The announcement was promptly challenged in court by the state government.

Government counsel Prakash Jani said the state government has filed a petition seeking quashing of the appointment. "The hearing is inconclusive and will be resumed on Tuesday," he added.

Jani said the government's contention is that the governor has no power to act on her own and has to act in consultation with the council of ministers. In this case, the governor was required to act only when the chief minister had concurred with the suggestion.

The state government's stand is that it has been trying to appoint the Lokayukta but for one reason or the other beyond its control, the appointment could not be made.

The process of consultation is not yet over and in the midway such an order has come to pass, Jani said.

Gohil said that the notification was issued by the governor in pursuance of the powers vested in her office after directions to the government to issue the same went unheeded.

"The recommendation of the name of retired high court judge, Justice Mehta came from the chief justice of the Gujarat High Court and had the concurrence of the leader of the opposition as mandated by law. The state government has no role in the matter, under the act, but was yet consulted," he added.

The Gujarat cabinet at its weekly meeting here Wednesday set up a five-member cabinet committee to study the Lokpal legislation - whenever it is passed by parliament - and amend the state Lokayukta Act in accordance with it.

The appointment was termed by the Congress as a a move to delay the appointment of a new Lokayukta - a post which has been lying unfilled for more than seven years.

The appointment of the cabinet panel came within days of the high court issuing a show cause notice to the state government to furnish an affidavit the status of the Lokayukta's appointment.

The notice was issued on a PIL filed by Bhikhabhai Jethwa, father of Amit Jethwa, the RTI activist who was killed, allegedly by the mining mafia.

Amit Jethwa had in April 2010 also filed a PIL in the high court for filling up the post of Lokayukta and the state government had then stated that the process was nearing completion. However, nothing happened.

 



 


 

 

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