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SC upholds Gujarat Lokayukta appointment, rejects state govt's appeal

The Supreme Court today rejected the Gujarat government's appeal to cancel the appointment of former judge RA Mehta as the state Lokayukta and told it to make all arrangements for him to take office in the state at the earliest.

Governor Kamla Beniwal had on August 25, 2011 appointed Justice Mehta to the post as Lokayukta, which had been lying vacant for the last eight years. However, the Gujarat state government had opposed the appointment on the grounds that the governor did not act as per the advice of the council of ministers.

Today the Supreme Court said that the governor was bound to act under advice of Council of Ministers but in this case the appointment wasn't wrong since it was done in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court.

Modi had earlier written a letter opposing the appointment. AP

The state government had earlier appealed against the appointment to the the Gujarat High Court but after a division bench gave a split judgement, Justice VM Sahai upheld the appointment.

The judge had had also pulled up Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for creating a constitutional crisis and held that the Governor had the discretionary power to make the appointment.

He had said the “pranks” played by the Chief Minister on the Lokayukta issue “demonstrates deconstruction of our democracy”.

The appointment had also acquired a political hue with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi also writing a letter to the Gujarat High Court opposing the appointment of Mehta, saying that he was prejudiced against the government and that he was too old to take office. Modi has openly opposed decisions by the Gujarat governor in the past.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, the Gujarat state government had contended that the personal discretion exercised by the Governor in unilaterally issuing the warrant of appointment of Lokayukta was “unwarranted.”

It had also objected to the use of “very harsh expressions and language” against Modi by the High Court and had sought removal of those remarks.

The Supreme Court today has agreed to expunge the critical remarks made against the Gujarat Chief Minister.