There’s finally some development that may end the impasse over the appointment of lok ayukta in Gujarat. It has been learnt that the office of the chief justice of Gujarat high court has sent the name of retired justice RA Mehta to the state government for notification of his appointment to the post, reliable sources in the Congress said. Justice Mehta’s name was sent to the chief minister’s office about 20 days back and a response is awaited, the sources said.
Justice Mehta’s name is believed to have the approval of both the Opposition Congress and the Governor. Reliable sources in the Congress said that his name was suggested because the government apparently did not accept Justice SD Dave’s nomination made over six months back.
“The CM had written to the chief justice seeking the appointment of another retired judge, Justice JR Vora, as the Lokayukta. But Justice Vora’s name did not have the approval of the leader of opposition. And, later, Justice Dave refused to take the assignment. After this the chief minister again wrote to the chief justice seeking Justice Vora’s appointment as lok ayukta. But this time, Justice Mehta’s name was suggested, and the last communication took place approximately 20 days back,” a source said.
It might be noted that social activist Anna Hazare stayed at Justice Mehta’s residence during his visit to the city last month. Justice Dave was not available for comment despite repeated efforts and Justice Mehta refused to comment. Officially, the government has maintained a silence on the new nomination. Minister of legal and parliamentary affairs Dilip Sanghani said he had met the secretary of the department on Tuesday itself but was not told of this development.
The buzz is that officials in the CMO are directly monitoring this matter. Sources in the Congress said that they are at the end of their tether on the issue and if Justice Mehta’s name is also not accepted by the government, the governor might be forced to use the special powers provided by the Constitution and appoint the lok ayukta.
Seemingly, Justice Mehta's name has also been forwarded without 'consultation' with the state government. As recently as last Saturday, BJP national spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad, who was in Ahmedabad at the time, was blaming the Congress for non-appointment of a Lokayukta as the leader of opposition Shaktisinh Gohil had not agreed to meet for a "consultation".
The delay in appointment of a lok ayukta in Gujarat has attracted much controversy in the past few months, particularly since activist Anna Hazare's fast for the Jan Lokpal Bill. The BJP and the Congress have been trading charges over who was responsible for the delay.