Upa Lokayukta refuses to quit

The State government’s reported efforts to make Chandrashekaraiah resign as Upa Lokayukta have failed.

A minister is said to have met Chandrashekaraiah and explained to him High Court Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen’s stand on his appointment to the ombudsman, but he reportedly told the minister he would not quit.

The government’s efforts to bail itself out of the situation did not stop at this point. It is learnt that Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda on Friday wrote to Governor H R Bhardwaj stating that he should take “necessary action” in the wake of the objections raised by the Chief Justice.

The Governor replied to Gowda’s letter on the same day saying the government should refer Section 6 of the Lokayukta Act. According to legal experts, there is no provision in the Lokayukta Act which allows the government to recall a Lokayukta/Upa Lokayukta.

As per the Act, the Lokayukta/Upa Lokayukta shall not be removed from office except by an order of the Governor passed after an address by both the Houses of the State Legislature, supported by a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority not less than two-thirds of the members of the House present. The outcome should be presented to the Governor in the same session for removing a Lokayukta/ Upa Lokayukta on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

The process followed for the removal of a Lokayukta/Upa Lokayukta is akin to removing a judge.

CJ irkedWhat has irked Chief Justice Sen is the State government’s failure to follow his advice. The government had assured the Chief Justice that the mandate of the law for appointment of the Lokayukta would be followed.

In his letter to Chief Minister Gowda, Justice Sen recalled how his predecessor Justice J S Khehar had pointed out a breach in the consultation procedure committed in the matter of appointment of the Lokayukta in August last year.

The then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, in a letter to the former chief justice, had tendered profuse apologies for the breach in consultation. Yeddyurappa had also assured that the system would be revised vis-a-vis the appointment of Lokayukta.

ConsultationAs per the Lokayukta Act, six persons — the Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses, chairpersons of both Houses, the Chief Justice and the Chief Minister — have to be consulted before proposing a name for the post of Lokayukta/Upa Lokayukta to the governor. 

Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah and Council chairperson D H Shankarmurthy, besides the chief minister, had recommended the name of Justice Chandrashekaraiah. The Congress had not given its opinion. Justice Sen had reportedly recommended Justice Rangavittalachar’s name for the Upa Lokayukta post. 

As three persons had favoured Justice Chandrashekaraiah’s appointment, the recommendation was sent to the governor, it is said. However, the appointment is made based on effective consultation and not on the number of supporters. Eventually, in consultation with the governor, Justice Chandrashekaraiah was appointed. 

Legal experts said if a PIL was filed in a court based on the CJ’s letter, then the case would assume the proportions of the P J Thomas case (CVC).
Total ignorance of law: ChandrashekaraiahAn unfazed Upa Lokayukta Chandrashekaraiah said the Chief Justice’s letter seeking his recall was “in total ignorance of the law”.

Asked if he would resign, he shot back: “Why should I? I am not a party to this. If only the Chief Justice’s words are to prevail, where is the need for consulting other members?”

He said the Chief Justice had sent names which did not include his. “But the Chief Minister exercised his powers, which is his prerogative, and the governor accepted his recommendation. What is wrong with that,” he asked.

Chandrashekaraiah further said he could be removed from his position only for “misconduct or incapacity”. “On that ground, an inquiry has to be conducted in accordance to the Judges Inquiry Act. Then it has to go to the government and be placed before both the houses and a two-third majority has to approve it. It is similar to an impeachment. Here, there is no mistake in what anybody has done,” he said.

They say...

I recommended Chandrashekaraiah’s name to the Upa Lokayukta’s post. Once appointed, he cannot be dismissed, unless he resigns.
K G Bopaiah, Speaker 

I had recommended Chandrashekaraiah’s name. What can be done now? It is very difficult to recall him. If he does not resign on his own, then the matter has to go the Assembly.
D H Shankarmurthy, Chairperson, Legislative Council

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