Justice (retd) Chandrashekaraiah's appointment as Karnataka Upa (deputy) Lokayukta was on Friday set aside by the Supreme Court which held that the chief minister had committed an 'error' by not consulting the chief justice of the state high court in the selection process.
A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Madan B Lokur also held that Upa Lokayukta (functions as a quasi judicial body for whose appointment consultation with the chief justice is mandatory.
It said the chief minister committed an error in not consulting the chief justice. "The chief minister, in my view, has committed an error in not consulting the chief justice of the high court in the matter of appointment of Justice Chandrashekaraiah as Upa Lokayukta. Records indicate that there was no meaningful and effective consultation or discussion of the names suggested among the consultees before advising the governor for appointment to the post," Justice Radhakrishnan said.
Justice Lokur, who delivered a separate but concurrent judgement, also held the appointment void ab initio (to be treated as invalid from the outset). "The appointment, therefore, is in violation of Section 3(2)(b) of the Act since the chief justice was not consulted nor was the name deliberated upon before advising or appointing him as Upa Lokayukta, consequently, the appointment of Justice Chandrasekharaiah as Upa Lokayukta cannot stand in the eye of law and he has no authority to continue or hold the post of Upa Lokayukta of the state," the bench said.
The bench, however, made it clear that nothing adverse has been found against Justice Chandrashekaraiah and he can be again considered by the state government for the post after the due process is followed.
The court, which has held that views of chief justice of the high court be given primacy while making appointment to the post of Lokayukta or Upa Lokayukta.
"Nothing spells out from the language used in Section 3(2)(a) and (b) to hold that primacy be attached to the opinion expressed by the chief justice of the high court of Karnataka. I am, therefore, of the view that the various directions given by the high court holding that the views of the chief justice has got primacy, is beyond the scope of the Act and the high court has indulged in a legislative exercise which is impermissible in law," the bench said.
"The Judgment of the high court is accordingly set aside, with a direction to the chief minister of the state to take appropriate steps for appointment of Upa Lokayukta in the state of Karnataka, in accordance with law," the bench said.
"Since nothing adverse has been found against Justice Chandrasekharaiah, his name can still be considered for appointment to the post of Upa Lokayukta along with other names, if any, suggested by the other five consultees under the Act," the bench said.