The Gujarat government has challenged the appointment of justice RA Mehta as lokayukta by governor Dr Kamla Beniwal as the chief minister wanted Justice (Retd) JR Vora appointed to the post.
Chief minister Narendra Modi had written twice to chief justice (CJ) SJ Mukhopadhya of Gujarat high court, insisting that Justice Vora's name be suggested. The letters, accessed by HT, disclose how the government had tried to scuttle the appointment of an independent Lokayukta.
Beniwal had bypassed the Modi government and appointed Justice (Retd) RA Mehta, following which Modi had demanded the governor be recalled. The BJP had met President Pratibha Patil on September 2.
On 21 February 2011, Modi wrote to Mukhopadhya, expressing reservations about justice SD Dave, whose name was suggested by the CJ on December 31, 2010. Modi insisted the CJ suggest Justice Vora’s name instead.
In his reply dated 23 March, 2011, Mukhopadhya wrote Justice Vora had been appointed as the director of the Gujarat State Judicial Academy and his name could not be considered.
In May, Justice Dave decided to withdraw and the CJ recommended Justice (Retd) RA Mehta's name. Modi wrote to the CJ again on June 16, stating the government had reservations about Justice Mehta. The council of ministers had also approved Justice Vora’s name, the letter said.
In his response dated August 2, Mukhopadhya wrote, “Reservations against Justice Mehta are not valid”. He also underlined that only the CJ can recommend a name for the Lokayukta and his recommendation is binding on the government. Thereafter, the government prepared an ordinance, seeking amendment in the Lokayukta Act to cut down the role of the CJ.