(File photograph of Narendra Modi and Kamla Beniwal)
The Supreme Court today rejected Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's contention that the Lokayukta
or ombudsman of his state was inappropriately selected and must therefore be removed.
Retired judge RA Mehta was selected as the Lokayukta
in August 2011 by Gujarat's Governor Kamla Beniwal - at the time, the post had been vacant for more than seven years.
Mr Modi has argued that the Governor did not consult his cabinet for the appointment. The Supreme Court appeared to agree with that. It offered this severe feedback of the Governor.
"The present Governor has misjudged her role and has insisted, that under the Act, 1986, the Council of Ministers has no role to play in the appointment of the Lokayukta
, and that she could therefore, fill it up in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court and the Leader of Opposition. Such attitude is not in conformity, or in consonance with the democratic set up of government envisaged in our Constitution."
But the judges today found that though the Governor excluded the cabinet from consultations, "it is evident that the Chief Minister had full information and was in receipt of all communications from the Chief Justice."
The Supreme Court has also asked for comments made against Mr Modi by the Gujarat High Court to be expunged. While declaring the appointment of Justice Mehta as the Lokayukta
in January 2012, the High Court had said, "The Chief Minister acted under a false impression that he could turn down the superiority and primacy of the opinion of the Chief Justice which was binding. The spiteful and challenging action demonstrates a false sense of invincibility."