The actual appointment of a Lokayukta in Gujarat may take longer as the state government, on January 28, filed a review petition in the Supreme Court. The government has requested the Apex Court to reconsider its judgment of January 2 which had upheld the appointment of retired Justice RA Mehta as the state’s Lokayukta. The petition is likely to come up for hearing soon.
In its January 2 judgment, an Apex Court bench had observed that the chief justice of the high court has the primacy of opinion over the chief minister. On this ground, the Supreme Court had confirmed Justice Mehta’s name which was earlier endorsed for the Lokayukta’s post by the chief justice of the Gujarat high court.
The then chief justice of the Gujarat high court, SJ Mukhopadhya, had rejected the objections of the chief minister and said that Mehta was fit for the post.
However, despite clear direction of the Apex Court, Justice Mehta has not taken charge as Lokayukta. In its review petition, the Gujarat government has relied upon a verdict delivered by the Supreme Court on January 11 in the case of appointment of the Upa-Lokayukta in Karnataka.
The review petition states that there is divergence of views in the court’s order on the Gujarat Lokayukta’s appointment and its order on the Karnataka up-lokayukta’s appointment.
“It is pertinent to note that the propositions of law laid down in both the said judgments are very much different while dealing with similar provisions relating to the appointment of Lokayukta in Gujarat and upa-lokayukta in Karnataka respectively,” the review petition states.
The government has argued that Section 3 of the Lokayukta act is identical in both Gujarat and Karnataka. It has further said that the Apex Court’s order in the Gujarat Lokayukta issue gives the predominant role to the chief justice while its order of January 11 seeks to grant equal status to all constitutional functionaries involved in the constitutional process.
Further, the January 11 judgment holds that executive functionaries have an equal role in the executive governance of the state, the review petition states.
“There is nothing in the law to suggest that their opinion should be subordinated to the opinion of the chief justice or that the chief justice can veto their views. The impugned judgment [that on the Gujarat Lokayukta’s appointment] finds the role of other constitutional functionaries referred to in Section 3 of the Gujarat Lokayukta act as subordinated to the opinion of the chief justice,” the review petition states.
The petition further states that the fact that the chief justice is an independent constitutional authority does not mean that the chief minister or the leader of opposition have no constitutional or statutory role, “more particularly when the power to be exercised under the said Section (3) is administrative in nature and not a judicial one.”
The review petition is affirmed by GAD’s additional secretary, Dhananjay Dwivedi, on January 15, 2013. However, Gujarat’s law minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said they were still thinking of filing a review petition in the Apex Court and were taking legal advice in this regard. “We will be able to tell you about it on Friday,” the minister said.