Lokayukta took up public causes but not his own

National

Gujarat Lokayukta Ramesh A Mehta has been known to be close to anti-corruption crusaders and has taken up public causes, but he chose to go unrepresented in either the high court or the Supreme Court while the battle over his appointment was being fought out.

"I had given it in writing to the courts that I did not want to say anything," the retired judge said on Wednesday, after the Supreme Court upheld his appointment. Asked why he chose to stay out when he had been made a party to the case, Mehta said, "I was not concerned about it."

Appointed last August by Governor Kamla Beniwal, Mehta chose not to take charge since the matter was sub judice with the state government having challenged the appointment. Now that it has been upheld, he was noncommittal about when he would assume charge. Under the law, the lokayukta cannot look into complaints filed five or more years before he or she assumed office.

Among the causes Mehta has taken up was that of Ashok Donnie, a needy student from Kolkata who won a seat at Gujarat National Law University but who then had to fight a legal battle to reaffirm his admission. Mehta accommodated Ashok at his home last June during the time the case was being heard in the Gujarat High Court.

Among the activists Mehta has been associated with are Anna Hazare and Pravin Mishra; he has also interacted extensively with former Karnataka lokayukta Santosh Hegde, whose investigations led to the arrest of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.

In September, when the case over his appointment was playing out in the high court, Mehta appeared as chief guest at an exhibition of paintings by Mishra. In December, he was in the audience at Gujarat Vidyapith where Hegde was giving a lecture on corruption. Mehta spent a day with Hegde and later said they had many "educating" exchanges.

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