Posted On Thursday, January 03, 2013 at 08:15:57 AM
|The Narendra Modi-led government on Wednesday said it will soon appoint Justice (retd) R A Mehta as the state Lokayukta
New Delhi - In what is seen as a setback to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the appointment of retired Justice R A Mehta as the Lokayukta of the state by Governor Kamla Beniwal.
The apex court said that the appointment was done in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court. A bench of justices B S Chauhan and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla dismissed the Gujarat government’s plea that the appointment was illegal as it was done without consulting it.
The bench held that the Governor is bound to act under the advice of the Council of Ministers, but the appointment of Justice Mehta is right as it was done in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court. The apex court said that Justice Mehta can go ahead with his work as Lokayukta.
Soon after the order, the Modi-led government on Wednesday said that it would implement the SC judgement. “We will soon implement the Supreme Court judgement on the Lokayukta,” said Gujarat Law Minister Bhupindersinh Chudasama.
The Congress received the news of the Lokayukta verdict with mixed feelings. Senior party leaders felt that the SC order would have made a lot of difference to the Gujarat assembly poll results had it come earlier.
“If only the order had come a few weeks earlier, we would have got different assembly results in the state. It would have changed the atmosphere. We would have got some advantage,” said a CWC member. Congress leaders from Gujarat feel the order was deliberately kept in abeyance in view of the state assembly polls.
After all the Gujarat government had moved the SC against the January 18, 2012 order of the Gujarat HC upholding the Governor's decision. Congress MP Praveen Rashtrapal pointed out that the SC order has already taken the sheen off Modi’s re-election. “Will Modi who challenged the authority of the Governor in appointing Lokayukta resign now?
He lost his case in the Supreme Court,” he said. A section of the Congress feels once the Lokayukta starts functioning, Modi could possibly be reduced to a BS Yedyurappa.
Though some Congress leaders are sceptical whether people would file complaints against Modi given the charged atmosphere in Gujarat, senior AICC functionary Madhusudan Mistry felt not all is lost in Gujarat.
“Once the Lokayukta starts functioning, people will bring forth complaints against the Modi government,” Mistry said. On its part, the BJP did not seem worried about the apex court order.
“First of all Justice Mehta is not Justice Santosh Hegde (of Karnataka Lokayuka who unseated Yeddy). He is a fine judge who will not succumb to any political pressure. Secondly, Modi is no Yedyurappa and has nothing to hide,” said a senior BJP leader.
The BJP expects the Lokayukta to carry out some pinpricks, by picking on Modi’s ministers. “He will be prepared for that. In fact four to five ministers have already lost elections. We expect people like Teesta Setalvad to rush with their complaints to the Lokayukta,” another BJP leader said.
Trying to downplay the SC order , BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain ANI: “See, it is the verdict of the court, it cannot be said to be a setback. The BJP will give any reaction only after studying the verdict. We have not yet received the copy of the judgement, we are looking into it.”