Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has sought clarity on the appointment of lokayuktas and upa-lokayuktas, suggesting the Supreme Court (SC) has given two contradictory judgments within a span of nine days on appointments in Gujarat and Karnataka.
Jaitley said Monday that the reasoning of the SC’s judgment on the appointment of the Karnataka upa-lokayukta differs from an apex court verdict delivered just nine days earlier on the Gujarat lokayukta appointment.
While the January 2 Gujarat judgment, he said, gave primacy to the HC chief justice’s opinion in the consultation process, making the chief minister’s opinion “insignificant”, the January 11 Karnataka judgment, “while upholding that there must be meaningful consultation with various consultees, including the chief justice, gives primacy to the chief minister and not the chief justice of the high court”.
This, the senior BJP leader said, was despite the fact that the word used by the Lokayukta Acts of both states was the same – “consultation” – while referring to the multilateral appointment process involving many constitutional authorities.
While agreeing with the Karnataka judgment, which “restores the balance between the executive and the judiciary”, Jaitley said, “two diametrically opposite views leaves me, as a legislator, in doubt… This ambiguity requires to be removed … The word ‘consultation’ can have only one meaning, be it in Gujarat, Karnataka or the rest of the country.”
The context: the SC recently struck down the appointment of Justice Chandrasekariah as Karnataka upa-lokayukta because the CM had not recommended his name to the HC chief justice. But, the court had upheld the Gujarat lokayukta’s appointment despite opposition from CM Narendra Modi, saying the chief justice’s opinion held primacy.