Tamil Nadu

T.N. Lokayukta: HC stays appointment of non-judicial members

PIL petition had sought quashing of the appointments as they were not in consonance with the law

Days after the Lokayukta was constituted in Tamil Nadu, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday stayed the appointment of the two non-judicial members, retired IAS officer M. Rajaram and advocate K. Arumugam.

A Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and S.S. Sundar, however, made it clear that the stay was with regard to the appointment of the non-judicial members alone and there was nothing to stop the Lokayukta from functioning with the Chairperson, retired Madras High Court judge P. Devadoss, and judicial members, former district court judges K. Jayabalan and R. Krishnamoorthy.

The court observed that it was happy to note that the State had enacted the Tamil Nadu Lokayukta Act, 2018. “The Act has been enacted with a laudable object to weed out corruption and to inquire into the allegations of corruption against public servants. Therefore, persons with impeccable integrity and experience, and without affiliation to any party, alone have to be appointed,” the Bench ruled.

‘Violations’ cited

During the course of the hearing, Senior Counsel M. Ajmal Khan pointed out that Mr. Rajaram was formerly the chairman of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission and under Article 319 of the Constitution, a member, once he ceases to hold office, cannot be appointed to any other post except to that of the Union Public Service Commission or any other State Public Service Commission.

Further, under Section 3(4)(f) of the Tamil Nadu Lokayukta Act, in order to become a member of Lokayukta, one should not have any connection with any political party or carry on any business or practice any profession. Mr. Arumugam was the secretary of the AIADMK Advocates Wing, Coimbatore, Mr. Khan pointed out.

Special Government Pleader A.K. Baskarapandian opposed the grant of an interim order in the case and submitted that Section 3(4)(f) of the Lokayukta Act would come into the picture only after the member had taken charge.

The court was hearing the public interest litigation petition filed by advocate R. Rajendaran of Karur, who sought a direction to quash the appointments as illegal as they were not in consonance with law. A search committee comprising retired High Court judge K. Venkataraman, former advocate general R. Krishnamoorthy and retired IPS officer A. Pari appointed the five-member Lokayukta that was notified on April 1.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 1:10:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-lokayukta-hc-stays-appointment-of-non-judicial-members/article26751357.ece

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