Split verdict in Gujarat Lokayukta appointment case

October 11th, 2011 - 12:14 am ICT by IANS  

Narendra Modi Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Oct 10 (IANS) In a setback to the Narendra Modi government, a two-judge bench of the Gujarat High Court Monday delivered a split verdict on the government’s plea questioning the appointment of R.A. Mehta as the Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal.

While Justice Akil Kureshi upheld the appointment of Mehta, Justice Sonia Gokani disagreed. The case will now go to a larger bench of the high court.

Reacting to the judgment, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari in New Delhi said that the “setback in the case should be a lesson for the BJP”.

However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said the “judgement was a tie”. “It is politically untenable,” he added.

The state government questioned the appointment of Mehta on the grounds that the governor did not consult it on the matter.

Mehta was appointed Lokayukta Aug 26. For seven years prior to that, the state did not have an ombudsman.

Justice Kureshi said that any advice by the council of ministers in the case would have been unconstitutional.

The governor had reportedly consulted legal experts before appointing Mehta. The opposition Congress party had been pleading for the appointment of an ombudsman.

To protest Mehta’s appointment, a delegation of the BJP, led by leader L.K. Advani, submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil urging her to scrap the order.

Modi approached the high court petitioning against the appointment. He had also written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against Mehta’s appointment.

Reacting to the verdict, Javadekar said: “Politically this decision is untenable. According to Article 163 of the Constitution, the governor is bound by the advice of the council of ministers.”

“We are very sure that the decision of the governor was a politically motivated attack on the federal structure. The Congress is isolated on this issue as even its allies differ from it on this matter,” he claimed.

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