Justice RA Mehta, who was appointed as Gujarat Lokayukta bypassing the Narendra Modi government, has declined to take up the position on the grounds that the state government has always questioned his credibility and integrity.
Justice Mehta has written a letter to the state governor and the government stating that he cannot take up the position considering the mindset and attitude displayed by the state government is counter-significant.
"Persistently and tenaciously approaching the Supreme Court with special leave petition, review petition, and curative petition at huge public expense. It may be compared to the budget for the Lokayukta office or cvcn the high court (which deals with lacs of cases every year). It would be an eye-opener," Justice Mehta stated in the letter.
" Rs. 45 crores of public money is said to have been spent by the Gujarat government in this litigation. This is a humongously disproportionate figure by any standard," he stated, suggesting that the Modi administration fought tooth and nail to stall his appointment at ever level from the high court to the Supreme Court and then review petition and curative petition.
Known for his pro-poor approach and independent mind, Justice Mehta was not acceptable to the chief minister, who allegedly wanted a person having no "anti-government bias."
READ: Justice Mehta's letter to the governor
Chief minister had recommended Justice JB Vora for the post but the chief justice of Gujarat high court had recommended Justice Mehta's name for the post. The chief justice had also rejected the contention of the chief minister that Justice Mehta had "anti-government bias."
Gujarat does not have Lokayukta since 2003 as the chief minister had vehemently opposed any move to have Lokayukta.
However, in 2011, Gujarat governor Dr Kamla, based on the recommendation of the chief justice of the high court, appointed Justice Mehta as Lokayukta bypassing the state administration.
Subsequently, the Gujarat government fought a bitter legal battle in the high court and the apex court.
"Even after the three judgements of the Supreme Court, the reluctance of the state government to notify the Lokayukta appointment in the official Gujarat Government Gazette is surprising but not unexpected," Justice Mehta stated.
In July, the Supreme Court had dismissed the curative petition of the Gujarat government, stating that the state government has yet not issued the notification to make the appointment public as required.