The Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday said justice (retd) RA Mehta's decision to refuse the post of Gujarat Lokayukta was disappointing, especially because it came a year after the Supreme Court upheld the appointment.
"We are disappointed with justice (retd) RA Mehta. He should not have resigned now. If he wanted to resign, he should have resigned when the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Gujarat high court regarding his appointment," AAP national executive member Prashant Bhushan said in Ahmedabad.
"It's close to a year since the apex court paved way for his appointment and despite the fact that the state government filed a curative petition against SC ruling, if justice Mehta didn't want to hold the post, he should have resigned immediately after the apex court's first verdict," he said.
Mehta, a former judge of the Gujarat high court, this week declined the office of Lokayukta citing Narendra Modi government's long and expensive legal battle against his appointment as one of the reasons.
"Lokayuktas should never expect cooperation from the state government because they are probing corruption cases against the state. If he had feared non-cooperation from the state government (as Mehta stated in his letter to governor), he should have resigned immediately after the SC order," Bhushan, who was in Ahmedabad to attend a party event, said.
Taking potshots at Modi, Bhushan said his government curtailed the powers of Lokayukta by introducing Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Act 2013 (which has yet to receive the governor's assent).
"According to the new act, the chief minister will decide whether action needs to be taken against corrupt ministers and officials. What is the power that a Lokayukta has under the new Act?" Bhushan asked.
"In fact, under the new act, frivolous complainants will be jailed for six months. On the one hand, the BJP talks about giving more freedom to CBI, and on the other hand it comes up with a law in which the chief minister decides who can be investigated by the Lokayukta.
"In reality, Modi does not want a Lokayukta which can freely investigate complaints against his ministers. Already, minister of state Parshottam Solanki is facing corruption charges in fisheries scam. Cabinet minister Babu Bokhiriya was convicted in illegal limestone mining case," he said.