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Emergency meeting to select a new UP Lokayukta inconclusive

Lucknow(PTI): The marathon meeting to appoint a new Lokayukta in Uttar Pradesh remained inconclusive on Tuesday as the selection committee failed to reach a consensus.

Akhilesh Yadav

The three-member selection committee comprising Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court DY Chandrachud and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Swami Prasad Maurya could not hammer out a name and will meet on Wednesday again, a senior official said. The meeting, which began at 6 PM, continued for almost five hours to meet a Supreme Court deadline.

The emergency meeting was held a day after the apex court pulled up the state government for not appointing Lokayukta in the state despite its directions and ordered compliance by December 16, saying it seemed that appointing authorities have their “own agenda”.

The present ombudsman Justice N K Mehtrotra has already spent nine years in office.

Pulling up the state government for not appointing Lokayukta in the state despite its directions, a bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said, “Why do you not appoint the Lokayukta? Why has our order not been complied with? Why can’t the Chief Minister, the Governor and the Chief Justice (of the High Court) sort this out?”

“We don’t mince words. It seems, each one of you have your own agenda… you make the appointment by Wednesday,” it said, fixing the petitions on the issue for hearing on December 16.

Earlier in the day, the Governor told reporters that the state will have a new ombudsman tonight as a meeting had been convened this evening to hammer out the issue. The last meeting of the selection committee held on September 27 to appointment new Lokayukta remained inconclusive with High Court Chief Justice questioning the validity of the process after a Bill was passed in the state assembly.

HC Chief Justice Chandrachud was of the view that as a Bill was passed in the state assembly, deciding name of Lokayukta could amount to its contempt. He suggested to take a legal opinion for the same. The UP Assembly had passed the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2015, to amend Lokayukta Act dropping Allahabad High Court Chief Justice from the selection committee.

The bill proposed that the committee be made a four-member body comprising the CM, Leader of the Opposition, Speaker and a retired judge who would be selected in consultation with the CM and Speaker. Before this, the Supreme Court had on July 23 asked the government to suggest a name for new Lokayukta by August 23 after which the government finalised the name of former justice Raveendra Singh Yadav and sent it to the Raj Bhawan for the first time on August 5.

The state government and the Governor have not been on the same page on Yadav’s nomination and the file recommending his name moved back and forth nearly half a dozen times between Raj Bhawan and the state government. The amendment was passed after the Governor refused to accept the appointment on the grounds that a proper meeting of the selection committee was not held and also the Allahabad HC Chief Justice had expressed reservations in view of Singh’s proximity to the ruling Samajwadi Party.

The bill is still awaiting the Governor’s assent. With no consensus over his name, Yadav had opted out of the race for the key post by sending a letter to the chief minister.

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