The Gujarat government on Friday filed a petition in the High Court seeking quashing of the Lokayukta appointed by Governor Kamala Beniwal.

Government pleader in the High Court Prakash Jani said “the hearing on the issue was inconclusive and will be resumed on August 30.”

Mr. Jani said the government's contention was that Ms. Beniwal had no power to act on her own and had to consult the Council of Ministers. In this case, the Governor was “required to act only when the Chief Minister had concurred with the suggestion.”

Cabinet spokesman Jaynarayan Vyas earlier claimed that the State government had been trying to appoint the Lokayukta since 2006, but for one reason or the other “beyond its control,” the appointment could not be completed.

“The process of consultation is not yet over and right in its middle such an order has come,” he said.

Lying vacant

The appointment of the Lokayukta had created a political impasse, with both the State government and the Congress blaming each other for the delay in filling the post lying vacant since 2003 when the last Lokayukta, S.M. Soni, resigned from office soon after Chief Minister Narendra Modi returned with a thumping majority in the December 2002 Assembly elections.

Instead of the Lokayukta, the State government earlier appointed a judicial inquiry commission to be constituted by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, M. B. Shah, to probe into the charges of corruption levelled by the Congress against the Modi administration, and then appointed the cabinet sub-committee to study and recommend necessary changes in the Lokayukta Act in keeping with the central Lokpal Bill.

Both the appointments were viewed as moves to scuttle the appointment of the Lokayukta, which under the existing Act, enjoyed wider powers of investigation than expected from a judicial inquiry commission.