Lokayukta Appointment: HC Seeks Govt Reply on BJP Leader's Plea

New Delhi
Lokayukta Appointment: HC Seeks Govt Reply on BJP Leader's Plea

The Delhi High Court today asked the AAP government to respond to a plea alleging that they did not consult BJP leader Vijender Gupta on appointing the Lokayukta even though he was the Leader of Opposition in the Delhi assembly.

Justice V P Vaish also sought replies from the Centre and Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi on Gupta's application that as per Delhi Lokayukta and UpLokayukta Act, 1995, the appointment procedure provides that the Leader of Opposition (LoP) has to be consulted.

While issuing notice to all concerned authorities, the court sought their replies within a week and listed the matter for hearing on September three.

Gupta has made the allegations in an application seeking intervention in the main petition filed by BJP leader Sat Prakash Rana for appointment to the vacant post of Lokayukta, the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Apart from seeking to intervene in the petition, he has also prayed for directions to Delhi government to withdraw its affidavit, comply with statutory provisions and start consultations with him.

He has alleged that Delhi government's affidavit, claiming it has initiated the process of consultation by submitting its suggestion for filling up the post of Lokayukta to the Delhi High Court Chief Justice, was "false and misleading" as "no consultation process" has been initiated with him.

The counsel for Delhi government opposed Gupta's plea, saying that the process has been initiated and the appointment will be made soon.

He further said "the Delhi High Court Chief Justice has sought certain clarifications on August 10, to which the Delhi government has replied back on August 14."

The counsel sought dismissal of Gupta's application, saying it has been filed in connivance with the main petitioner Rana.

Advocates Neeraj and Sushil Kumar Pandey, appearing for Gupta, alleged that the process that Delhi government has stated to have begun was "nothing but a delaying tactic".

Delhi government had on July 24 stated in an affidavit that it has initiated the process of appointing Lokayukta, a post which has remained vacant since November 2013.

It had said that in compliance with statutory mandates, it has "initiated the process of consultation by submitting its suggestion for filling in the vacant post of Lokayukta in a sealed cover, by a letter date July 10, to the Delhi High Court Chief Justice."

"It is, therefore, most respectfully submitted that the process of appointment of Lokayukta has been initiated and is in process. The present petition may be kindly dismissed as infructuous," the Delhi government had added.

Delhi government's response had come in the backdrop of the court's notice of May 15 while hearing a plea filed by Rana for appointment of the anti-graft ombudsman.

However, Rana's counsel Jayant Nath had contended that though AAP government assumed charge in Delhi on February 14, it has "not yet taken any step for the appointment of the Lokayukta and Uplokayukta here".

He had said that the non-appointment was adding to the pendency of cases and, more importantly, blocked a legal right of residents of the national capital. He had also contended that the post was lying vacant for the last 21 months.

"The petitioner made enquiries at the office of Lokayukta, which was currently a functional office, and where complaints and petitions are being accepted on a daily basis.

"In other words, public money is being spent on running the office of Lokayukta without there being any Lokayukta to justify the expenditure. This amounts to a significant waste of public money, for which Delhi government and LG are squarely responsible," Rana's petition had said.

It also said that in view of the importance of Lokayukta, the "inaction" by Arvind Kejriwal government and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung for 18 months is "astounding" and a "clear reflection of the lack of respect" they have for existing laws and democratic institutions.

Rana has said that the "office of the Lokayukta has been made a pawn in a political game" and the government "does not wish" to fill the vacancy.

On September 26 last year, the Delhi High Court, while hearing a different PIL on the same issue, had asked the LG to initiate the process to fill the post of Lokayukta saying statutory provisions make it mandatory on the part of the State to ensure that the post is filled up "without any delay".

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