Supreme Court appoints UP Lokayuta under its Constitutional Powers

Sanjay Mishra, New UP Lokayukta
Sanjay Mishra, New UP Lokayukta

The Court of India has exercised its extraordinary powers and appointed former judge of Allahabad High Court Justice Sanjay Mishra as new Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh in place of Justice Virendra Singh whose appointment by the court became controversial because the state government allegedly did not place correct facts before it. The Supreme Court took the extreme step following non-compliance of its order to appoint Lokayukta for the last 18 months.

The appointment of Lokayukta had become a contentious issue following a difference of opinion between Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and present Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Justice Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud who expressed his reservations on some names suggested by Mr Yadav including the name of retired justice Virendra Singh who is presently chairman of state consumer forum. It was brought to the notice of the chief minister that his son is a functionary of Samajwadi Party and he is related to some Minister of his cabinet. Justice Chandrachud clarified his stand by writing a letter to Governor Ram Naik and Chief Justice of India explaining that the circumstances that arose in the meeting resulted in sudden appointment of Lokayukta by the apex court though the meeting for the purpose remained inconclusive and continued for the evening.

Newly appointed Lokayukta Justice Sanjay Mishra, who was appointed by a bench comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C Pant of the apex court, retired as a judge of the Allahabad High Court in 2014 and has always been regarded uncontroversial and fair. He graduated in Arts from Allahabad University and enrolled in 1977 to practice law. He became High Court Judge in 2004 and had clean track record. His role as ombudsman to eradicate corruption from the high offices of governance is a highly challenging job in view of rise of corruption in administration. Illegal mining under political patronage, matters relating to housing and land use changes and award of tenders under many ambitious projects could also come under his scanning. Public spirited citizens were fed up with the approach of the outgoing Lokayukta justice N.K. Mehrotra who got many extensions due to his suitableness to the ruling dispensation.

Lokayukta is an institution to deal with complaints relating to maladministration and corruption in administration and could probe even the ministers excluding the chief minister. Though treating it as a case of executive failure to discharge executive functions by constitutional authorities, the decision to appoint Lokayukta could have far reaching impact. Many such appointments are still pending in various states and at the level of Union government because of lack of mutual consensus and understanding between constitutional authorities on identical posts.