With the Supreme Court on Wednesday upholding governor Kamla Beniwal's decision to appoint Justice (retd) RA Mehta as Gujarat Lokayukta, the Narendra Modi government said it would soon implement the apex court judgement.
"We will soon implement the Supreme Court judgement on Lokayukta," state Law Minister Bhupindersinh Chudasama said here.
"The Supreme Court has accepted Gujarat government's contention that Governor has to act as per the advice of the council of ministers," he added.
A detailed reaction on the issue could only be given after reading the judgment, Chudasama said.
In a setback to the Gujarat government, the Supreme Court upheld Mehta's appointment as the state Lokayukta, saying it was done in consultation with the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court.
The governor was bound to act under advice of council of ministers, but in this case the appointment was not wrong since it was done in consultation with the High Court Chief Justice, the apex court said.
Governor Kamla Beniwal had on August 25 last year appointed Justice Mehta to the post of Lokayukta, which had been lying vacant for the last eight years.
Adopting a cautious approach, BJP state spokesperson Vijay Rupani said, "Let us get a copy of the Supreme Court verdict. We will study it and then comment."
The opposition Congress and NGOs in Gujarat welcomed the Supreme Court's decision on Lokayukta, saying it will expose the state government's "corrupt" practices.
Former Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Shaktisinh Gohil said, "We welcome the decision. The Governor's decision to appoint Lokayukta was legal and within her constitutional rights...Better late than never..."
"The BJP, at the national level, wants Lokpal and stalls Parliament proceedings demanding setting up of a Lokpal. The law was in place but Lokayukta was not appointed for the last eight years. The state government used delaying tactics by challenging Governor's decision in the high court and when the Gujarat HC ruled in Governor's favour, they went to the apex court," Gohil said.
"The common man of Gujarat can now know the corrupt practices of the state government and the Lokayukta provides them a platform to raise voice," Gohil, the former leader of opposition in Gujarat Assembly, said.
Social activists and advocates also welcomed the apex court's decision.
"This judgment is not only important for Gujarat but for all states because the Supreme Court has decided whose opinion should matter in the appointment of Lokayukta, of Chief Justice of the Gujarat high court or Chief Minister," advocate Mukul Sinha, who had filed a petition in the court for the appointment of Lokayukta, said.
"Modi government was insisting that the opinion of CM as the head of council of ministers should have the primacy. As SC has decided the issue now, Gujarat can have neutral, unbiased Lokayukta," Sinha further said.
Reacting to the verdict, social activist Teesta Setalvad said, "It is a victory of constitutional governance and the rule of law over the arrogance of power. No one is above law."
Father Cedric Prakash, director of NGO Prashant, said, "The Supreme Court judgement must be seen as a shot in the arm for constitutional propriety and a serious effort in ensuring that justice and truth ultimately find a place in Gujarat".