The Supreme Court on Wednesday noted that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had initially expressed his intention to accept the recommendation of the Gujarat High Court's chief justice on appointment of Lokayukta but had later gone back on it.
"The chief minister who had spoken, not only about the primacy of the opinion of the Chief Justice (of Gujarat HC), but had also expressed his opinion as regards the supremacy of the same and had expressed his solemn intention to accept the recommendation of a name provided by the Chief Justice, was now expressing his inability to accept such name," a bench of Justice BS Chauhan and Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla observed.
The observation was made by the court while upholding the appointment of retired Justice RA Mehta as Gujarat Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal in consultation with the Chief Justice of Gujarat HC.
The apex court referred to the minutes of a meeting between the chief minister and the leader of opposition on February 23, 2010 and noted that while Modi had said "in the event a retired judge has been given some other assignment, it is not permissible to consider him for the appointment to the post of Lokayukta in the State of Gujarat," he had recommended the name of another retired judge, Justice JR Vora who was engaged in another assignment.
The bench also noted that Modi in his letter of August 18, 2011, to the Chief Justice had said, "Although, I have no personal reservation against the name of Justice (Retired) RA Mehta, but as the head of the state government, I am afraid, I may not be able to accept the name of Justice (Retd) RA Mehta, who, in my view, cannot be considered the most suitable choice for the august post of Lokayukta, Gujarat."