Chief justice, not CM must choose Goa’s Lokayukta

 

The Goa Lokayukta refuses to see the light of day. The bill was passed in a desperate hurry and labelled The Goa Lokayukta Act 2011, without incorporating required changes to make the Lokayukta effective, with the fond hope that Goa would get a Lokayukta immediately.
 
That has not happened and we are on the search for a Lokayukta. Various names have come up, but the Lokayukta has not been named yet. The Goa government has appointed a search committee consisting of the advocate general, the chief secretary and the law secretary to suggest names. There are no rules framed on the appointment process.The Goa Act, unlike the Uttarakhand Act, has no search committee and the sanctity of the Goa search committee is anybody's guess. We may finally get a Lokayukta, but would the Lokayukta, appointed by the government and chosen by the committee appointed by the chief minister, really inspire the confidence of the civil society?
 
The Lokayukta must be competent whose integrity is beyond challenge. We may also get such a Lokayukta, but public confidence in such a Lokayukta shall be far greater if the appointment is made in a transparent manner and without the government having the right of primacy over the appointment. The Lokayukta, after all, would adjudicate on governmental maladministration or corruption.
 
There are Lokayuktas functioning in different states. These Lokayuktas have made no impact on the administration or on the governance in these states. In fact, many of us do not even know that there are Lokayuktas functioning in other states. The performance of Lokayuktas in most of the states has been dismal. Except for Justice Santosh Hegde and before him Justice Venkatachalla in Karnataka, no other Lokayukta appears to have left any impression on the administration. Various states have brought in Lokayuktas for cosmetic purposes as a populist measure to give a false sense of confidence to the public that corruption is being fought and that citizens have an institution to complain to.
 
In each of the states, the Lokayuktas are retired high court judges picked by state governments to create the illusion that the government does not tolerate corruption. Even B S Yeddyurappa picked a retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Shivraj Patil, to be the Karnataka Lokayukta. Patil had to resign amid a controversy over allotment of urban plots. Interestingly, he was appointed without consulting the chief justice of the Karnataka high court. Yeddyurappa apologized profusely to the chief justice and promised to put in place proper consultative processes in the future.
 
In the matter of appointment of Lokayukta the provisions of Karnataka and Goa are almost similar-the Lokayukta must be appointed by the governor on the advice of the chief minister in consultation with the chief justice of the high court. In Goa, the leader of opposition is to be consulted, while in Karnataka the presiding officers and leaders of opposition are to be consulted.
 
The process and proper system of consultation between the chief minister and the chief justice needs scrutiny. The Goa chief minister appears to be telling us that the government will choose the person and then seek the approval of the chief justice. In Karnataka, Justice Chandrashekharraiah was appointed as the Upa Lokayukta without him being recommended by the chief justice (though he was recommended by the previous chief justice, but was not appointed earlier). The division bench consisting of Justices N Kumar and H S Kenpanna quashed the appointment of Chandrashekharraiah due to the faulty consultative process adopted by the chief minister. The division bench then put in place a clear process of consultation, which is pending before the apex court. [TOI]