‘Guv has no exclusive right to appoint Lokayukta’

The Gujarat government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Governor Kamla Beniwal had breached constitutional norms by appointing Justice (retd) R A Mehta as the Lokayukta without taking its consent.

The state government said the Governor had to act on the advice of the cabinet and its consent was must for appointment of Lokayukta.

"The Governor has not got exclusive right to appoint the Lokayukta as she claims. The Governor must get cabinet's consent for the appointment," senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the state, contended before a bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan.

"The Governor, while exercising function under section 3 of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986, is to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers," he said.

"In the present case, there has never been any advice by the council of ministers for the appointment in question and that, therefore, on this ground alone, the action under challenge deserves to be held constitutionally bad," the petition said.

The bench was hearing petitions filed by the state government and an Ahmedabad-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) through its president V K Saxena challenging the Gujarat High Court verdict upholding the appointment of Mehta as the Lokayukta by the Governor.

It also objected to the use of "very harsh expressions and language" against Chief Minister Narendra Modi by the high court and sought that these remarks be expunged.

The Governor had on August 25 last year appointed Justice (retired) Mehta to the post of Lokayukta, which had been lying vacant for the last eight years.

The high court had on January 18 rejected the plea of Gujarat government against the appointment, three months after it had given a split verdict.

Justice V M Sahai, who decided the matter as a third judge, had said the "pranks" played by the chief minister on the Lokayukta issue "demonstrates deconstruction of our democracy".

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