CM has final say on naming Upa Lokayukta: SC

CM has final say on naming Upa Lokayukta: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday held the appointment of Justice Chandrashekharaiah as the Karnataka Upa Lokayukta null and void and ruled that the chief minister would  be the final authority to recommend a suitable candidate for the post.

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Madan B Lokur interpreted the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984, to conclude that the Upa Lokayukta would be appointed by the governor on the advice of the chief minister, who would make a recommendation after holding consultation with constitutional authorities, including the chief justice of the high court.

Set aside

The apex court set aside the Karnataka High Court’s verdict that opinion of the chief justice will have primacy in the appointment process.  The Bench ruled tha­t Justice Chandrashekharaiah’s appointment was void ab initio (to be treated as invalid from the beginning) since the chief justice of the high court was not consulted at all.

Justices Radhakrishnan and Lokur passed separate but concurring verdicts on the appeals filed by Justice Chandrashekharaiah and the state government, challenging the high court’s April 3 judgment quashing his appointment.

“Section 3(2)(b) of the Act stipulates that, so far as the Upa Lokayukta is concerned, he shall be a person who has held the office of a judge of the high court and appointed on the advice tendered by the chief minister. The chief minister has to consult five dignitaries, the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court, the chairman, Karnataka Legislative Council, the Speaker, Karnataka Legislative Assembly, the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council and the Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly,” Justice Radhakrishnan said.

He clarified that the chief minister’s advice would have primacy and not that of the consultees, including the chief justice of the high court. The Act applies to Lokayukta also.

“I am, therefore, of the view that various directions given by the high court holding that the views of the chief justice have got primacy, is beyond the scope of the Act and the high court has indulged in a legislative exercise which is impermissible in law. I, therefore, set aside all directions issued by the high court, since they are beyond the scope of the Act,” Justice Radhakrishnan said in his 69-page verdict. Justice Lokur, in his 51-page verdict, said: “It is ultimately the decision of the chief minister what advice to tender to the governor, since he alone has to take the final call.”

“Can the chief minister advice the governor to appoint a person not recommended by any of the constitutional authorities? I see no reason why he cannot, as long as he consults them,” he said.

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