Narendra Modi has reasonable apprehension against Lokayukta: NGO to SC

Narendra Modi

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has "reasonable apprehension" on the appointment of Justice (retd) R A Mehta as Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal as the former judge had made public statements against the state government prior to his appointment, an NGO has told the Supreme Court.

Ahmedabad-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), through senior advocate Soli J Sorabjee, cited alleged instances to suggest that Justice Mehta would not be able to exercise his functions "objectively" and with "impartiality".

He submitted before a bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan that Justice Mehta, who is also a trustee of NGO Centre for Social Justice, had made utterances criticising the state government's alleged "wrong policies".

Further, the NCCL, which has filed its petition through its President V K Saxena, submitted that the former judge, as a member of a panel, had criticised the government for not fulfilling its responsibility in rehabilitating the 2002

riot-affected people.

Quoting these and other instances, Sorabjee, who was assisted by advocate Unmesh Shukula, told the bench that "the chief minister could well have reasonable apprehension that Justice Mehta has disabled himself from exercising his functions objectively and with impartiality."

The NGO, along with the Gujarat government, has filed the petition challenging the Gujarat High Court verdict upholding the appointment of Mehta as the Lokayukta by the Governor.

The Centre, however, has contended that there should not be any interference with the high court order and the appeal filed by the state government and the NGO was devoid of merit.

Besides the statements on the state government's alleged "wrong policies" and rehablitation of riot-affected people, the NGO said that the retired judge, as a member of a jury, had issued a communique at the end of a public meeting "which contained statements which are antagonistic to the state".

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