Governor can't bypass government on Lokayukta, Gujarat tells SC
The Gujarat government Tuesday told the Supreme Court that Governor Kamla Beniwal could not have acted independent of the advice of the council of ministers on the appointment of Ramesh Amritlal Mehta as Lokayukta.
"The governor is the titular head of the state and has to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers" and could not have exercised her individual "prerogative" in the appointment of Mehta as Lokayukta, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Gujarat, told the apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla.
Venugopal told the court that Modi thrice called the leader of opposition for consultation but he did not attend the meeting and thereafter a decision on the appointment of Lokayukta from among the list of people recommended by the chief justice was taken.
"Here question arises whether the refusal by the leader of opposition amounts to consultation," asked Justice Chauhan.
"You can take a horse to a pond but you can't make him drink water," Venugopal said.
"Water is not clean," observed Justice Kalifulla.
Venugopal assailed Beniwal's decision of seeking the opinion of Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati on the appointment of Lokayukta bypassing Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers.
Describing it as an "inconceivable situation", Venugopal said in the court that the governor sought one name from the chief justice of the high court and consulted the leader of opposition but kept the chief minister completely out of the picture.
The apex court is hearing the Gujarat government's petition challenging the high court's verdict upholding the appointment of Mehta, a former high court judge, as Lokayukta.
Assailing the action of the governor, Venugopal said her action would "amount to shaking the constitutional scheme of things" wherein the governor acts on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
Venugopal will continue the arguments Wednesday.