Blow to Modi, SC upholds appointment of Lokayukta

Justice R A Mehta

"The present governor has misjudged her role and has insisted, that under the act, the council of ministers has no role to play in the appointment of the Lokayukta, and that she could therefore, fill it up in consultation with the chief justice of the Gujarat high court and the leader of opposition. Such attitude is not in conformity, or in consonance with the democratic set up of government envisaged in our constitution," the bench said.

Censuring the governor for her statement that that she was not bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers, and that she had the exclusive right to appoint the Lokayukta, the bench said that it was "most certainly" not in accordance with the spirit of the constitution.

"It seems that this was an outcome of an improper legal advice and the opinion expressed is not in conformity with the rule of law. The view of the governor was unwarranted and logically insupportable," the court said. The governor's position was synonymous with the state government and that she could take independent decisions only while acting as a statutory authority under a particular act or under the exceptions provided in the constitution, it added.

Terming the explanation given by the chief justice to Modi as rational, the court said: "If a vigilant citizen draws the attention of the state/statutory authority to the apprehensions of the minority community in that state, then the same would not amount to a biased attitude of such citizen towards the state."

The apex court also disapproved of the strictures passed against Modi by the third HC judge, who was referred the petition after a two-judge bench was divided in its opinion. While upholding the appointment of Mehta, the third judge had said that the conduct of the chief minister demonstrated "deconstruction of democracy" and amounted to a refusal to perform his statutory or constitutional obligation. The judge observed that in light of this, a responsible constitutional decision was required to be taken by the governor to preserve democracy and prevent tyranny.

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