Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley today said he "seriously disagrees" with the opinion of the Supreme Court on the appointment of the Gujarat Lokayukta and cautioned that courts may use this as a predecent in Lokpal's selection as well.
"As a part of India's legislative and political process, I seriously disagree with the observations of the Supreme Court. The Act framed by the legislature does not give any primacy to the opinion of the Chief Justice," Jaitley said in an article released by BJP.
The Supreme Court had upheld the appointment of Justice (retd.) R A Mehta as the Gujarat Lokayukta though Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Council of Ministers had opposed it. The apex court accepted the Governor's contention that the High Court Chief Justice was consulted.
BJP has expressed strong objection to the decision.
"The fact that the Chief Justice is an independent constitutional authority does not imply that the Chief Minister or Leader of the Opposition has no constitutional or statutory role particularly when the power to be exercised is an executive function and not a judicial one," Jaitley said.
The BJP leader claimed this decision will have a direct impact on the constitution of the Lokpal. The Rajya Sabha Select Committee on Lokpal has recommended a collegium to choose the ombudsman. It consists of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well.
"If the present reasoning of the Supreme Court is correct, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and an eminent jurist will be silent spectators on the collegium because the opinion of the Chief Justice of India would get primacy and exclusivity for the appointment of the chairperson and members of the Lokpal," Jaitley said.
"There cannot be a broad-based mechanism for appointment of Lokpal. By judicial interpretation, the courts will eliminate the role of other constitutional authorities and give to themselves the exclusive power," he said.
The eminent lawyer maintained his intention is not to undermine the judicial institution but he is also "not willing to allow the usurpation of the role of the legislature or the elected government" in administrative matters.
The BJP leader said the law relating to the ombudsman's appointment has no ambiguity. He maintains though it is the Governor who makes the appointment, it is on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. The Governor's role is minimal, he insisted.
"The role of the Governor is a non-activist one. The consultation, therefore, in the name of the Governor has to be made by the Council of Ministers through the Chief minister. It is the Chief Minister who has to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court and the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly," Jaitley said.
He alleged the Gujarat Governor admittedly acted in an unconstitutional manner. "She wanted to usurp the authority of the elected government.... The Governor had decided to act on her own," he said.