PIL challenges validity of Shah panel probing corruption charges
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A public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Gujarat High Court has sought dissolution of the M B Shah Commission and a fresh investigation in the allegations that are subject matter of the Commission. The panel was constituted by the state government in August 2011 to probe into 17 allegations of corruption worth over Rs 1 lakh crore.
A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala has posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
The petitioner, one Mohammed Suleman Rehmatkhan Pathan from Ahmedabad, has claimed that the government had constituted the Commission to avoid investigation by the Lokayukta into various allegations of corruption levelled against it.
Pathan's lawyer Ashish Desai said that in the event of appointment of a Commission, the Lokayukta is restrained from looking into the allegations under the provisions of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act.
Recently, the Supreme Court had dismissed the government petition that challenged the appointment of Justice (retired) R A Mehta as Lokayukta of Gujarat. Desai said that certain observations of the SC on the issue are the main grounds of the PIL.
In its judgment, the apex court had observed, "On August 16, 2011, the process of consultation between the Chief Justice of the High Court and the state government stood complete and on August 17, the Commission was constituted even when the process for the appointment of a Lokayukta was in progress."
"...on August 16, 2011, the process of consultation (on the name of Justice R A Mehta as Lokayukta) stood complete as the record reveals, there was nothing left for the consultees to do/discuss," it had added.
The SC further observed, "It is pertinent to note that, in order to avoid an enquiry by the Lokayukta, an enquiry commission was set up under the Commission of Inquiry Act by the state government..."