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Gujarat High Court asks state to revise Lokayukta petition

Monday August 29, 2011 11:19:02 PM, IANS

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Gujarat governor, government on collision course on Lokayukta

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   

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court Monday asked the state government to revise and file a fresh petition challenging the appointment of Lokayukta in the state.

The direction was issued by the division bench of Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Sonia Gokani who stated that under Article 361 of the Indian Constitution the state government cannot make the governor or the president respondent in the court.

Advocate Anand Yagnik said the Gujarat High Court asked petitioner Pradipsinh Jadeja, Minister of State for Law, to remove Gujarat Governor Kamala Beniwal's name as respondent.

Any other official from Raj Bhavan can be the respondent. Next hearing is set for Sep 5.

On Aug 25, Governor Beniwal, bypassing the state government, appointed Justice (Retd) R.A. Mehta as the state Lokayukta.

The next day, on behalf of the government, Pradipsinh Jadeja filed a petition challenging the decision as "unconstitutional".

The petition argued that constitutionally the governor herself cannot take decision on appointment of Lokayukta nor can she work independent of the council of ministers headed by the chief minister on the issue.

On the other hand, Shaktishin Gohil, opposition leader, said: "Section 3 of the Lokayukta Act, 1985, states the rights of governor, which gives the right to take decision on appointment of Lokayukta."

For over seven years the post of Lokayukta in Gujarat has been lying vacant. Even in June 2011, high court Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyay recommended the name of retired Justice R.A. Mehta. The state government asked him to rethink his recommendation, but the chief justice again recommended the same name on Aug 2.

The high court had issued a notice to the state government over a PIL seeking appointment of Lokayukta. The petition was filed by Bhikhu Jethawa, father of Right To Information (RTI) activist Amit Jethava who was shot dead in front of the Gujarat High Court in July last year.





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