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Lokayukta appointment in MP raises eyebrows, Oppn critical

The Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to appoint Justice (retired) Naresh Kumar Gupta as the Lokayukta, who is six years junior to the Uplokayukta justice UC Maheshwari, has created a controversy, with social activists and opposition leaders criticizing the move.

bhopal Updated: Oct 21, 2017 20:50 IST
Punya Priya Mitra
Punya Priya Mitra
Punya Priya Mitra, Hindustan Times
Lokayukta,Madhya Pradesh,Bhopal
Lokayukta police on Tuesday raided four residential properties of former agriculture director DN Sharma in Bhopal. (Abdul Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

The Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to appoint justice (retired) Naresh Kumar Gupta as Lokayukta, six years junior to Uplokayukta justice UC Maheshwari, has created a controversy, with social activists and opposition criticising the move.

It has also resulted in two Congress leaders — Ajay Singh, leader of the opposition, and legal expert Vivek Tankha — airing divergent views. Usually, the Lokayukta is senior to Uplokayukta. The post had been lying vacant for over a year after the previous Lokayukta justice (retired) PP Naolekar retired on June 30, 2016. The post is of great importance as Madhya Pradesh is the only state besides Karnataka where Lokayukta has police powers to raid and arrest. It acts as the ombudsman to check corruption against public servants, which includes politicians.

Justice Gupta, scheduled to take oath of office on Wednesday, has served as legal adviser to the state government and was appointed as high court judge in 2010. He retired on June 30, 2017.

Raising objection over the appointment, Tankha told HT, “There is the question of judicial tradition, which has been broken. Seniority and dignity go together. By making such an appointment, it appears the state government is doing a favour, which reduces the confidence of people towards the institution. Earlier, judges of Supreme Court or chief justices were appointed as Lokayukta, but now you are appointing a judge who is junior even to the Uplokayukta. What extraordinatry quality does he have? I am asking this as a member of the legal fraternity and civil society.”

Defending his role on giving consent to justice Gupta’s appointment, Ajay Singh said that the chief justice wrote to the chief minister on October 3, suggesting the justice Gupta’s name. “The chief minister wrote to me on October 6 and I gave my consent. I do not have the gradation list of judges. It is up to the chief justice and chief minister to look into it,” Singh said. He added he would write to CM that he is not happy with the controversy.

First Published: Oct 18, 2017 12:32 IST