SC reserves order on UP Lokayukta row

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New Delhi, Jan 20: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on petitions seeking recall of an earlier order by which Justice Virendra Singh, former judge of Allahabad High Court, was appointed the Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh.

The apex court also made clear that it would not send the appointment issue back to the empowered collegium consisting the Chief Minister, the Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of the High Court as it had failed to comply with its orders on the appointment of Lokayukta for nearly 20 months.

Uttar Pradesh

At the outset, the bench, comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Prafulla C Pant, made clear that it is not going to vacate its order appointing Justice Singh as Lokayukta till there were compelling circumstances to do so. "Unless there are compelling reasons shocking our conscience, we will not vacate our order," the bench said, asking senior advocate T R Andhyarujina to substantiate the allegations that had made the Chief Justice of the High Court to oppose Justice Singh's name for the post.

The apex court had on December 16 last year exercised its constitutional authority and appointed Justice Singh as Lokayukta, saying the constitutional functionaries-- the Chief Minister, the leader of opposition and the Allahabad High Court Chief Justice -- had failed to comply with its orders by not appointing the chief of the state's anti-graft ombudsman.

During the winter vacation, the Supreme Court had heard a fresh plea filed by one Sachidanand Gupta who had alleged that the SP government had "concealed facts" about Justice Singh and "played fraud" upon the apex court.

The state government had also told the court that it will not go ahead with the oath taking ceremony of Justice Singh as Lokayukta till the apex court had heard the plea.

The court had taken note of the fresh plea which alleged that immediately after the appointment, the HC Chief Justice had written a letter to Governor Ram Naik expressing his displeasure with the state government for not disclosing the facts that he had some reservations on Singh's name.

The plea had sought quashing of the December 18 order of the UP government appointing Justice Singh as Lokayukta. 

The fresh plea had said "the State Government has violated the essential condition of rule of law by neither apprising this court of the correct facts and also not approaching this court to apprise it of the true facts even after the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court had expressed that the name of Justice (Retd) Virendra Singh/Respondent No.3 had been dropped by the Chief Minister himself.

"The so-called 'communication gap' between the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court and the Chief Minister about which there is no mention before this court during the hearing on 16.12.2015 is destructive of the fundamental conditions upon which the Constitution of India rests - i.e. rule of law, truth and constitutional morality.

"The tenure of UP Lokayukta is at least 8 years and once the High Court Chief Justice has apprised Principal Secretary to the Governor and state's Chief Secretary that the name of Justice Singh was 'not even in fray and was not in consideration', it was obligatory on authorities to approach this court and apprise this court regarding the same; rather than to advise the Governor of UP to issue a formal order of appointment of Justice Singh as Lokayukta," it said.

Earlier, the apex court had examined a list of nominees and ordered the appointment of Justice Singh as Lokayukta.

"The failure of constitutional functionaries to comply with the orders of the highest court of the land is deeply regretted and astonishing...We, therefore, proceed to exercise our right under Article 142 of the Constitution to remedy the situation by passing an appropriate order," it had said.

Prior to this, the apex court had on Decemebr 14 rapped the UP government for not appointing Lokayukta in the state despite its directions and asked it to make the appointment by December 16.

PTI

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