Gujarat Governor returns Bill on Lokayukta appointment for review

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Justice (retd) RA Mehta. Photo: PTI
Justice (retd) RA Mehta. Photo: PTI

On 2 September, Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal returned the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013 passed by the Assembly in April this year. “The Governor has not given her assent to Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013, which was passed in the state Assembly in April this year, and has sent it back to the government for review,” said state government spokesperson and Finance Minister Nitin Patel.

Appointment of Lokayukta

The Governor, bypassing the state government, had appointed Justice (retd) RA Mehta as Lokayukta on 25 August 2011. The post of the Gujarat Lokayukta was lying vacant for last eight years then. Justice Mehta’s appointment had resulted into a long legal battle due to which the post of Lokayukta is still lying vacant in the state.

In August 2013, Justice Mehta declined to take charge of office of the Lokayukta, blaming the “mind-set and attitude of the state government”.

Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013

The new Bill was introduced in the House after state government lost the legal fight over the Governor’s move to appoint Justice (retd) RA Mehta as Lokayukta was upheld by the High Court as well as the Supreme Court earlier this year.

On 2 April, state Assembly had passed the bill, which aims to curtail the power of Governor and chief justice of the high court in the appointment of the Lokayukta.

Details of the Bill

The new bill has proposed to give all powers regarding appointment to a selection committee headed by chief minister and wants the state Governor to act on recommendations of this committee. The chief justice virtually has no role under the new bill.

In existing Lokayukta Bill 1986, the power of selection of Lokayukta is with the Governor and the Chief Justice of High Court.

(With PTI inputs)

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