Only Chief Justice can name judges for Lokayukta, Upalokayukta posts

In a landmark verdict, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday held that the names of judges to be appointed to the posts of Lokayukta and Upalokayukta should emanate only from the Chief Justice of the High Court, and no other constitutional authority involved in the selection process could suggest names.

However, the High Court said the Chief Minister would have supremacy over the final selection of the judge, recommended by the Chief Justice, after holding consultation, in writing, with four other constitutional functionaries — the Speaker of Legislative Assembly, the Chairman of the Legislative Council, and Leaders of the Opposition in the Assembly and the Council — who are also part of the selection process.

Set aside

A Division Bench comprising Justice N. Kumar and Justice H.S. Kempanna, which interpreted the provision of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act for the first time because of the controversy over the process of appointment adopted by the State, also set aside the appointment of Chandrashekaraiah, a former judge of the High Court, as Upalokayukta for the reason that the Chief Justice had not recommended his name.

Holding Mr. Chandrashekaraiah's appointment void ab initio and non est (the order of his appointment does not exist), the court pointed out that government itself had not accepted his [Chandrashekaraiah's] name on an earlier occasion.

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