The Karnataka High Court on Monday framed questions that need to be answered while interpreting the Karnataka Lokayukta Act. This is to clear the confusion in the process of appointment of both Lokayukta and Upalokayukta as it felt there was ambiguity in the selection process.
The questions were framed by a Division Bench comprising Justice N. Kumar and Justice H.S. Kempanna, which has commenced dictation of the verdict in the open court on the two public interest litigations challenging appointment of Upalokayukta Chandrashekaraiah, a former judge of the High Court. It has been contended in the petitions that the government did not follow proper consultation process in selecting Mr. Chandrashekaraiah to the post.
The questions framed are: what is the procedure prescribed in Section 3(2) (A) and (B) of the Karnatala Lokayukta Act for appointment of Lokayukta and Upalokayukta, and the meaning of the word ‘in consultation with'.
Whether the name of the person to be appointed as Lokayukta and Upalokayukta, on the advice of the Chief Minister, has to emanate only from the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court or all constitutional functionaries — Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Chairman of Legislative Council, Leaders of Opposition in the Assembly and Council respectively.
Whether the name suggested by the Chief Justice should have primacy.
The Bench noted that there is no ambiguity in the Act with regard to appointing authority, persons to be appointed, those to be consulted by the Chief Minister before advising the Governor to appoint a retired judge to the respective posts.
However, it found ambiguity in the consultation process.
The relevant provision of the Act dealing with appointment does not indicate who should propose the name; how consultation process is to be conducted; what input each constitutional functionary should contribute; if no unanimity on name, then how the difference has to be resolved; whether consultation by all constitutional functionaries is by way of sitting together at a place or circulating input in writing, and so on.
Meanwhile, the government on Monday submitted to the Bench the letter written by the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa extending “profuse apology” to the then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, who had raised objection to appointment of Justice Shivaraj V. Patil without following due consultation process.
In that letter, Mr. Yeddyurappa had informed Justice Khehar that the government [led by him] had adopted the same procedure as was being followed over the years and had absolutely no intention to cause any disrespect.
Moreover, the letter revealed that Mr. Yeddyurappa had informed Justice Khehar that the “Chief Secretary (with whom the then Chief Justice had expressed objection on appointment process) had assured me that he will ensure that a revised system be put in place on the lines suggested by your kind-self.”
The Bench will continue dictation of verdict on Tuesday.
Keywords: Karnataka Lokayukta