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Hazare-backer Modi yet to appoint Gujarat Lokayukta

Last updated on: April 08, 2011 13:32 IST

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, while on an election tour in Assam, supported Gandhian Anna Hazare's movement for a strong Lokpal bill, but back home in Gujarat Modi's own record in supporting the institution of Lokayukta is appalling.

The case of Gujarat is also an eye-opener for all Indians, who are agitating for the Lokpal bill. The act itself has not made real changes in fighting corruption, as politicians are not empowering the institution in letter and spirit.

Under the Gujarat Lokayukta bill, state Governor Dr Kamla Beniwal, Gujarat High Court Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhya and Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil have the right to form consensus to appoint a Lokayukta. The ruling party or the government has no say in it.

The law formed under the Congress government in the early 90s is healthy enough to keep a watch on the government but Modi is, reportedly, afraid of appointing a Lokayukta and has done everything possible to get someone of his choice, which is not permissible under law. So far, he has not succeeded.

Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhawadia says, "We have been agitating for appointment of a Lokayukta since 2004.

Under the law, Modi has no say in the selection of a Lokayukta. Yet, he has not accepted the duly selected candidate for the post."

When Modhawadia was Leader of the Opposition, he had demanded that the post be filled up. But the matter lingered on because the Gujarat government had then suggested the name of a retired judge of the Mumbai high court for the post. Since Modi government has no say in the matter, his choice was rejected by the trio. 

Eventually, after the long process that went on amongst Gohil, Justice Mukhopadhya and Dr Beniwal, the name of Justice S D Dave was finalised. But, the Modi government refused to issue an appointment letter confirming it.

Following the government's appeal to reconsider the name, the chief justice and governor wrote back to Modi, seperately, stating that their choice was proper and fair. Now, the ball lies in Modi's court.  

"If Modi wants to genuinely support Hazare, he should immediately appoint the Lokayukta, who has been fairly selected by due process of law," says Modhwadia.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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