Gandhinagar/New Dehi: The
Gujarat assembly Tuesday passed a bill paving the way for the
creation of multi-member Lokayukta body which will be selected by
a six-member committee headed by the chief minister.
The Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013, provides for Lokayukta and
four Up-Lokayuktas to be selected by the a committee comprising
the chief minister, assembly speaker, law minister, leader of
opposition, a judge of the high court and the vigilance
It completely erases the governor's role in the appointment of
Lokayukta, and also reduces the ombudsman's age from earlier 75
years to 72 years. Under the existing Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986,
the power of selection and appointment of new Lokayukta had been
vested with the governor, chief justice of the high court and
leader of opposition.
The bill was passed amidst walkout by the Congress members led by
Leader of Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela.
The new legislation would effectively frustrate the appointment of
Justice (Retd) R.A. Mehta, by Governor Kamla Beniwal. The
appointment was resisted by Chief Minister Narendra Modi right
from the day one. Incidentally, Justice Mehta is already 75 years
The Gujarat government had travelled right up to the apex court to
question the powers of the governor in appointing the Lokayukta.
Having lost in the apex court, the state government has now moved
a curative petition.
The apex court while upholding the appointment of Justice Mehta,
had ruled that opinion of the state chief justice would hold
primacy in recommending the name of the Lokayukta.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) defended the bill, saying the
chief minister will come under in its ambit while the Congress
accused the party of "double standards" and creating obstacles in
the appointment of Lokayukta.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Gujarat
Lokayukta bill had provided for creation of multi-member body in
accordance with suggestions of central government.
She said the new bill "will not disturb appointment of Justice
Mehta" and added that the chief minister will be in the ambit of
She rejected suggestions that the bill had taken away powers of
"The governor will work as per advice of cabinet. Hope there will
be informed debate on the bill," she said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari however
accused the BJP of double standards on the issue of fighting
corruption and said it had delayed appointment of Lokayukta in
"The party, which is not tired of singing praises for Lokpal in
Delhi, that has not appointed Lokayukta in Gujarat for the last 10
years. Whenever the governor tried to appoint Lokayukta, there
were all attempts to create road blocks," he said.
BJP leaders said nagarpalikas and panchayats had been brought in
the ambit of Lokayukta as in accordance with stipulation for
release of funds.
They said the state governor had returned the Gujarat Lokayukta
(amendment) bill in 2011 which sought to cover mayors, deputy
mayors, senior functionaries of municipalities and sarparnches in
its ambit saying that a Lokayukta will not be able to look into
complaints against such a large number of functionaries.
The Lokayukta had been made multi-member to address concern of the
governor, they said.
Referring to criticism about exclusion of governor from the
selection process, BJP leaders said that the apex court in its
judgment in the Gujarat Lokayukta case had slammed the governor
for "misjudging her role".