In a setback to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court Wednesday upheld the appointment of Justice (retd.) R. A. Mehta as the Lokayukta of the state.
An apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla said Governor Kamla Beniwal appointed justice Mehta as the state's lokayukta after due consultation with the chief justice of Gujarat High Court as provided under the statute.
Pronouncing the judgement, Justice Chauhan said: "The governor has to act in consultation with chief justice of high court which has been done in this case."
The court was hearing a petition by the Gujarat government challenging a state high court verdict upholding Justice Mehta's appointment.
On Nov 27, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Gujarat government, told the court that Governor Beniwal refused to act on the aid and advice of the state's council of ministers and acted independently.
Describing the governor's action as an "extra-ordinary situation", Venugopal said Beniwal consulted the leader of opposition in the state assembly but the chief minister and the council of ministers were sidelined.
The Gujarat government's petition had contended that Justice Mehta's appointment was "void, ab-initio as being ultra vires Section 3 of the Act (Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986) read with Article 163 of the Constitution."