Gujarat governor Kamala Beniwal has referred back the Gujarat Lokayukta Commission Bill 2013 apparently as it vested all powers to appoint Lokayukta in the chief minister and not the governor or the chief justice of Gujarat.
The move, political observers feel, is another link in the embittered Beniwal-Modi relationship.
The main reason behind the tussle is that Beniwal, a senior Congress politician from Rajasthan, is a perceived Congress hand in the Modi land, which doesn’t suit the BJP’s lead campaigner.
And that’s the reason why both had been at draggers drawn over the appointment of a Lokayukta in the state.
Beniwal had appointed justice (Retd.) RA Mehta in August 2011 as Lokayukta bypassing the state government after his name was recommended by the Gujarat chief justice.
This was unsuccessfully challenged by the Modi government first in the Gujarat high court and later in the Supreme Court.
However, justice RA Mehta refused to assume the charge accusing the Modi government of not respecting the sanctity of the Lokayukta and "casting aspersions on the integrity and impartiality of him."
The state government passed the Gujarat Lokayukta Commission Bill 2013 in the assembly during the last budget session following a bitter legal fight with the governor over the issue of Lokayukta appointment. The present bill empowers the chief minister to select and appoint the Lokayukta. Now after it has been referred back by the governor, the state government may have to resubmit the bill to the governor in the forthcoming assembly session starting September 30.
Gujarat does not have a Lokayukta since 2004 as the Modi government first tried in vain to install a favourable judge on the post then later made sure that Beniwal’s choice justice Mehta didn’t assume office.