The Narendra Modi government in Gujarat suffered a big setback on Wednesday as the Supreme Court upheld state governor Kamla Beniwal’s decision to appoint justice RA Mehta as the lokayukta.
A bench of justice BS Chauhan and justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla dismissed the state government’s appeal against the Gujarat high court verdict, approving Beniwal’s decision to appoint Mehta on August 25, 2011.
But at the same time, the apex court said the governor had “misjudged her role” by insisting that the council of ministers had no role to play in the appointment of the lokayukta and that she could fill it up in consultation with the chief justice of the Gujarat high court and the leader of the opposition.
“The appointment of the lokayukta can be made by the governor, as the head of the state, only with the aid and advice of the council of ministers, and not independently as a statutory authority,” the bench said.
Upholding Mehta’s appointment, the apex court said it did not violate any law since Modi was informed about the communication between Beniwal and the then Gujarat high court chief justice on the appointment.
Modi’s objection to Mehta’s name was turned down by the high court chief justice.