The Gujarat high court on Monday directed the Narendra Modi government to delete the name of governor Kamala Beniwal as one of the respondents in its petition challenging the recent appointment of justice RA Mehta as lokayukta - a post lying vacant since 2003.
The Modi government has submitted that the government has challenged the appointment because the lokayukta is backed by the opposition party Congress and Raj Bhawan is acting on behest of the opposition party.
The court fixed September 5 for the next hearing.
On August 25, Beniwal had issued a notification appointing justice Mehta as state lokayukta, bypassing the state government, which was sitting on the file for months.
Subsequently, the Modi government had hurriedly approached the court challenging the appointment on the ground that the appointment was unconstitutional and was made bypassing the state government.
On Monday, a division bench accepted the contention by the governor's counsel SN Shelat that the governor or member of his or her office cannot be made a respondent under Article 361 of Constitution and directed the state government to amend the petition by deleting the governor's name as a respondent in it.
In the standoff between governor and the chief minister on the lokayukta issue, the state government had included the name of the governor as well as newly appointed lokayukta justice RA Mehta as respondents in its petition, which was filed on August 26 within hours after the governor issued the notification regarding the appointment.
The governor had made the appointment in consultation with high court Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhyaya and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil under section 3 of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, official sources said.
Last week, the state government constituted a five-member ministerial group to review the Gujarat Lokayukta Act and also appointed justice MB Shah Commission to probe into 15 charges levelled by the Congress against the state government.