Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta selection likely to be delayed more

Pending for over last one year and having seen tussle between Government and Governor House for past one month, the appointment of new Lokayukta in Uttar Pradesh is likely to be delayed further as question on “validity” of selection process under the existing act was raised during the selection meeting at the official residence of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

Sources inform that the point was raised by Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court DY Chandrachud, who was part of the meeting for the first time after the entire controversy began last month. Leader of Opposition and BSP Leader, Swami Prasad Maurya was also present.

Also, the question of validity of the present process under the existing act was raised pointing out that the amendment bill with new selection criteria is already pending with the Governor of Uttar Pradesh for approval. Akhilesh Yadav had called the selection committee meeting comprising of Leader of Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya and Chief Justice of Allahabad HC at his official residence in Lucknow this Sunday to discuss over the panel of names.

“It would take some more time to find a way out,” said Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav after the meeting on Sunday, adding that constitution has to be followed. However, a senior officer informed that Government would go for “legal opinion” now before proceeding further. In the first week of August this year, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had recommended name of Justice (retired) Ravindra Singh as new Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh to Governor Ram Naik. However, Governor after detailed examination had rejected the name following objections raised by Chief Justice over reported closeness of Ravindra Singh with the ruling party. Following this, Government on August 28 had brought an amendment bill in Uttar Pradesh assembly, removing the requirement to consult Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court for selection of Lokayukta.

As per the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta (amendment) Bill 2015, which was cleared in the state Assembly, the selection committee, which will recommend Lokayukta’s name to Governor House, will be headed by the Chief Minister and would have Speaker of the Assembly, Leader of Opposition and a retired judge – to be nominated by the committee chairperson in consultation with the Speaker- as its members. This amendment bill is pending for approval with Governor Ram Naik, who is “examining it”.

Irrespective of the Bill pending with the Governor for approval, UP Government last week had suddenly decided to start the selection process under the existing act by inviting Chief Justice of Allahabad for consultation. The last meeting, which took place last week, remained inconclusive as Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court could not attend it due to “Court Day” in Allahabad. The selection meeting called on this Sunday is the first one attended by Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court after the entire controversy over selection process.

“The issue of validity of selection process under the existing act, when an amendment Bill is already pending with the Governor of the state was raised by Chief Justice today. Now, before calling the next meeting or discussing any names, Government would first take legal opinion before proceeding further,” said a senior Government officer.