The Congress said on Wednesday that Cabinet has taken the decision to extend Lokayukta's tenure by a year because chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan "wants to influence" the anti-corruption ombudsman's office.
Leader of Opposition in the assembly Satyadev Katare told reporters that extending Lokayukta's tenure was in line with Chouhan's "ambition to bring all constitutional bodies under his control".
At a meeting chaired by Chouhan, the Cabinet had on Tuesday decided that Lokayukta and deputy Lokayukta will continue on their posts for a maximum period of one year even after retirement if no successor is appointed in their place. This was made possible after amending Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta and Deputy Lokayukta Act-1981.
Katare questioned the timing of the decision, saying that it indicated the government was in a hurry "to oblige Lokayukta".
"Lokayukta PP Naolekar is not retiring immediately as his term ends in June 2015. What was the compulsion to increase the tenure through the Cabinet when the government is in a majority and can take such decision anytime," Katare said.
"Does the government have no trust in judges who are scheduled to retire soon and may become eligible for the post?" Katare said.
According to the Congress leader, the current Lokayukta will have a term of seven years despite the fact that the Act mentions a five-year period, which the government had earlier extended to six years.
Although the Act makes it mandatory for the government to consult the leader of Opposition besides the chief minister and chief justice of state high court at the time of Lokayukta's appointment, Katare said he had not been consulted before taking the decision.
Katare has registered his protest in a letter he has written to state governor Ram Naresh Yadav.