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Will lay down guidelines for consultation process for appointment of Lokayukta: SC

Supreme Court

NEW DELHI, MARCH 22: The Supreme Court said on Friday it will lay down the guidelines for the consultation process to be followed by Chief Ministers, Chief Justices of High Courts and the Leaders of the Opposition for appointment of the Lokayukta in States.
The top Court issued notice to the Madhya Pradesh Government on a plea challenging the appointment of Lokayukta in the State on the ground that the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) was not consulted.
Observing that the issue has country-wide ramifications, a 3-Judge Bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said some procedural modalities have to be decided.
“Bearing in mind the country-wide ramifications, it will be appropriate for this Court to lay down parameters for conducting an effective consultation in such matters. This has a country-wide impact because what should be the procedure followed by the State for appointment of Lokayukta when there is a provision in the statue that LoP should be a member some procedure modalities have to be fixed and you must give the person an opportunity to at least discuss the names. It can’t be that on the previous day he is just being told to give consent to the candidate. This has a country-wide ramification. We must lay down some parameters otherwise the presence of LoP in the committee would have no meaning”, the Bench said.
The top Court was hearing a plea filed by the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Umang Singhar of the Congress challenging the appointment of Justice (Retired) Satyendra Kumar Singh as Lokayukta on the ground that he was not consulted.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Singhar, called it “utter mockery” of the process as there was no consultation involved.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the State Government, said the Chief Justice of the High Court was consulted and the entire file was sent to the Leader of the Opposition.
Referring to the Madhya Pradesh Lokayukt Evam Up-Lokayukt Adhiniyam, 1981, Singhar said the appointment of the Lokayukta is facilitated with the consent of the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of the High Court.
“Therefore, according to Section 3 of the Act, proper consultation was required to be done between the State Government, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh and the Leader of the Opposition of the Legislative Assembly of the State before making the appointment.
“It is submitted that while appointing the Respondent No.2 to the post of Lokayukta, the Respondent No.1 (MP Govt.) has not consulted the petitioner and therefore, the appointment of the Respondent no.2 (Singh) is illegal and void and not done according to the statutory process prescribed”, the plea, filed through Advocate Sumeer Sodhi, said.
Singhar claimed that apart from non-consultation, the appointment suffers another infirmity as only one name was forwarded and approved contrary to the wide meaning attributed to the word “consultation” in respect of judicial/quasi-judicial appointments.
The entire process of appointment reeks of “arbitrariness, foul play and ex- facie illegalities” and is liable to be set aside, he said in the petition.
“The aforementioned actions of respondents reduce the faith of the general public and masses in the process of transparent appointment for various constitutional positions including that of the Lokayukta, who has to play an integral role in investigation of serious offences”, the plea said.