Justice R A Mehta refuses to take charge as Lokayukta of Gujarat

Justice R A Mehta refuses to take charge as Lokayukta of Gujarat

Justice (Retired) R A Mehta, who was appointed as the Lokayukta of Gujarat, has refused to take charge of the post in the state. Mehta's decision comes after the Supreme Court recently rejected the curative petition of the Gujarat government challenging the appointment of Mehta as Lokayukta of state.

In a letter to Governor and Chief Justice of the High Court, Justice Mehta has cited reasons which "confirmed his belief that he could not persuade himself to accept the office of Lokayukta". "I humbly withdraw my consent for the appointment as the Gujarat Lokayukta and decline to assume the office. Kindly accept my request and relieve me," Justice Mehta said.

"How can I take the responsibility and become the Lokayukta when my objectivity and credibility are not accepted by the government and by the public functionaries whose conduct the Lokayukta may have to investigate? Findings and recommendations for or against a public functionary will always be under question mark," Justice Mehta said.

The decision comes as a major embarrassment for the Gujarat government who had challenged his appointment in the Supreme Court after the Gujarat High Court had upheld the decision.  On August 25, 2011, the Governor had appointed Justice Mehta to the post of Lokayukta, which had been lying vacant for the last eight years. The Narendra Modi government contested the validity of his appointment on the ground that the personal discretion exercised by the Governor in unilaterally issuing the warrant of appointment of Lokayukta was "unwarranted" and appealed a case in the High court.

In January 2012, the Gujarat High Court upheld the appointment of Justice Mehta by a majority verdict. The Supreme Court in its verdict on January 2013 upheld the decision of the Gujarat High Court stating that the appointment was done in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

The Gujarat Government which contested the appointment of Justice Mehta till the last remedy of a curative petition in the Supreme Court was rejected seemed “reluctant” to notify his appointment in the state gazette. "Even after three judgments of the Supreme Court, the reluctance of the State Government to notify the Lokayukta appointment in the official Gujarat Government gazette is surprising, but not unexpected," Mehta wrote.



Image from here.