Gujarat HC uphelds Lokayukta appointment

Ahmedabad: In a setback to the Narendra Modi government, the Gujarat High Court, in a majority decision, today upheld the appointment of Lokayukta by the Governor while dismissing the plea of the state challenging it.

Justice V M Sahai, who was given the task of hearing the petition challenging the appointment of Lokayukta following the split verdict of a division bench, said, "I could not agree with Justice Sonia Gokani of the division bench on the points of difference, which were referred to me."

In his verdict, he said, "I concur with the views of my brother judge Akil Kureshi." Kureshi had upheld the appointment of Lokayukta calling it as "constitutional".

"Hence, the government petition is dismissed", the court said.

Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal had appointed retired Justice R A Mehta to the post of Lokayukta on August 25, last year. The post had been lying vacant for eight years prior to that.

The Gujarat government, led by Chief Minister Modi, had gone all out to oppose the appointment of Lokayukta by the Governor for "bypassing the state government".

The government had challenged the appointment the very next day in the High Court and had also unleashed a political campaign against the Governor.

Earlier, on October 11, a division bench of the High Court had given a split verdict on the appointment issue.

While Justice Kureshi had upheld the decision of the Governor, Justice Gokani had quashed the warrant of appointment issued by the Governor terming it to be unconstitutional.