Current Affairs

HC issues notice to Goa Govt on Lokayukta Appointment

A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising of Justice A.P. Lavande and Justice U.V. Bakre today directed that notice be issued to the Goa Government on the petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues challenging the appointment of Justice B. Sudershan Reddy as Goa’s first Lokayukta. The Court has given the government two weeks to file its reply.

Adv. Aires Rodrigues today submitted before the Court that Sudershan Reddy’s selection and appointment as Lokayukta of Goa was not in accordance with law.

Adv. Rodrigues further submitted that the Goa Government instead of requesting the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court to recommend names for the post of Lokayukta, high-handedly and unlawfully appointed a search committee headed by Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni to select the Lokayukta.

In his petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of the India, Adv.Aires Rodrigues has submitted that the selection process and appointment of Sudershan Reddy as the Goa Lokayukta was not in accordance with law and that the primacy of the Chief Justice in matters of selection to high judicial and quasi judicial posts could not be whittled down by illegal actions of the Government.

Adv. Aires Rodrigues in his petition has sought that the order dated March 3rd 2013 appointing Sudershan Reddy as Goa Lokayukta be quashed and set aside.

Adv. Rodrigues has also sought that pending the hearing and final disposal of his petition, that Sudershan Reddy be restrained from functioning or acting as the Goa Lokayukta.

Pointing out that Sudershan Reddy was selected as Lokayukta by an unlawful search committee appointed by the government which was headed by Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni, Adv. Rodrigues has in his petition submitted that the Lokayukta being a quasi-judicial authority, the selection and appointment had to be on the basis of the doctrine of separation of powers, with the primacy vested in the Chief Justice.

Submitting along with his petition documents pertaining to the selection process of the Goa Lokayukta obtained under the Right to Information Act, Adv. Rodrigues has stated that the entire selection process was not transparent as the intention of the Government was to select and appoint a Lokayukta of the choice of the ruling party and of its Chief Minister.

Stating that the Chief Minister and Advocate General were public functionaries who would be investigated by the Lokayukta,  Adv. Rodrigues has stated that they would therefore have a bias in the selection of a favourable Lokayukta who would listen to them, thereby defeating the very purpose of appointing a Lokayukta.

Stating that the consultation process with the Chief Justice and the Leader of the Opposition was required to be a very meaningful one, Adv. Rodrigues has stated that merely getting the Chief Justice and the Leader of Opposition to concur with the final name selected by the search committee was not a meaningful consultation as required by law.  

Adv. Rodrigues has in his petition also pointed out that the Supreme Court recently in the Gujarat Lokayukta case had stressed that leaving the finality of the choice of the Lokayukta to the council of Ministers, was akin to allowing a person who is, likely to be investigated to choose his own judge and that a pliant Lokayukta would render the Lokayukta Act completely ineffective and meaningless.

Besides, the State of Goa Adv. Aires Rodrigues has also made the Lokayukta, Bombay High Court Chief Justice, Chief Minister and the Leader of Opposition all parties to the petition in addition to the three members of the search committee Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni, Chief Secretary B. Vijayan and Law Secretary Pramod Kamat.

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