The Supreme Court appointed on Wednesday justice Virendra Singh as the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta, admonishing the state government for failing to appoint an ombudsman for over a year and disapproving the way constitutional authorities failed to discharge their responsibilities.
A bench headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi noted its earlier directions for the Lokayukta’s appointment were not complied with and “deeply regretted” the “failure if not refusal of the constitutional functionaries” to implement the court’s order.
“I will strive hard to root out corruption from the society,” said Singh, a former Allahabad high court judge who also holds the office of chairman of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum.
Asked whether the SC’s decision came as a surprise, Singh said the process of appointment of new Lokayukta had been going on for a long time. “I was not very keen for the same as I already hold office of chairman State Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. I will, however, do whatever necessary after assuming the Lokayukta’s post,” said Singh.
Earlier in the day, senior advocate Kapil Sibal’s bid to explain state’s serious efforts failed to impress the apex court’s bench. Sibal said the committee comprising the high court chief justice, chief minister and leader of opposition had made serious efforts to decide on a name to be appointed as Lokayukta.
He told the court the three-member committee met for five hours on Tuesday and two hours on Wednesday morning. Giving five names to the court he claimed there was a consensus between the chief minister and leader of opposition on three names. But, the chief justice had expressed no opinion.
Exercising its extraordinary power, the court finalised Justice Singh’s name.
On December 14 the SC had expressed its disillusionment over the UP government’s inability to select the anti-corruption watchdog. It gave two days time to the state to comply with the directions.
“Why do you not appoint the Lokayukta? Why has our order not been complied with? Why can’t the chief minister, the governor and the chief justice (of the high court) sort this out?” it had remarked.
“We don’t mince words. It seems, each one of you have your own agenda... you make the appointment by Wednesday,” it had said.
When state additional advocate general sought time on the ground there needful was being done, the bench retorted : “Last time also, you had said the same thing.”
The SC was hearing petitions filed by Mahendra Kumar Jain and lawyer Radhakant Tripathi seeking a direction to the state to appoint the Lokayukta at the earliest in consonance with the SC order.
On the petitions SC had on December 4 issued contempt notice against the state.
On April 24, last year, the court had upheld the constitutional validity of amendment in UP Lokayukta Act for fixing eight-year tenure for the Lokayukta.