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Your Excellency, the Governor of Guj3rat, Dr. Smt. Kamlaji, and Hon'ble the Chief Justice of Gujarat, Mr. Justice Bhaskar Bhattacliarya,
1. I am thankful for putting confidence in me for the high office of the
2. When Hon'ble the then Chief Justice Mr. Justice S J Mukhopadhyay
kindly invited me two years ago for my consent for this purpose, and discussed, I was not interested, having no ambition or desire, and was reluctant, being averse t~ any controversy. With kindness and great persuasion
I was given to understand that the choice would be unanimous and without any
objection from any quarter including the State Government. I had my own reason to believe that (it has turned out to be wrong) and I had consented at some personal sacrifice thinking that I could serve very useful public purpose and having a hope that the Gujarat Loltayukta Act, 1986, could be upgraded and made really effective and strong in line with universal public opinion and consensus in the cozntry.
3. Soon it became clear that the public functionaries (whose conduct the
Lokayukta may have ro investigate) had strong objections against my appointment as the Gujarat Lokayukta. It was said that I had 'anti-government bias'. 'From that r r ~ o ~ n e n I t have been brooding: To be or not to be the
Loknj~rrktcr? The answer has not been easy.
4. Highly respected elders and friends have with great force and
persuasion suggested that I must accept. My thinking is to the contrary. I owe
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5. They have given various reasons, such as,
Highest judicial authority in the State (the Chief Justice) and the constitutional authority (the Governor) have reposed faith in me. The highest caul-ts in the State and in the country have upheld the appointment and repeatedly negatived all contentions (including that of bias) against my appointment as the Lokayukta. There is acute need of such Lokayukta in Gujarat as in all the States. There has been no Lokayukta in ~ u j a i a since t almost a decade. e A lot of awareness and public expectations are generated from t h e ' ~ o k a ~ u kand t a it should not be frustrated. Forty-five of crores of public money is said to have been s p e ~ t by the Gujarat Government in this litigation. Humongously disproportionate figure by any standard. I may be called hyper-sensitive, touchy, timid, shirking and what not. Some may even allege that I have been won over, purchased, threatened and what not!
6. I nave very great respect for their views. I have been seriously
considering all along, but I could not persuade myself to accept the office of Lokayukta.
7. The mind-set and attitude displayed by the State Government are
counter-significant, e.g.; P "not acceptable to me", "my way or highway";
9 The draft Ordinance, during the pendency of the petition, to amend
the scheme of the appointment of Lokayukta (to exclude the Chief Justice and load the selection committee with majority of the ruling party and giving primacy to the political executive); (Not assented to by the Governor).
9 Referring a large number of complaints against the public
functionaries to a Commission of Inquiry (so as to exclude them fro111being investigated by the Lokayukta);
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P Persistently and tenaciously approaching the Supreme C'o111.t(S!,I',
Review Petition, and Curative Petition) at huge public expense. It may be compared to the budget for the' L,ok;~yukt;l office or cvcn 01' the High Court (which deals with lacs of cases every year). It would be an eye-opener.
The new 1,oltayiil;ta
Bill passed by the Giijarat Legislative
Assembly (again to exclude the Chief Justice and load the selection committee with majority of the ruling party and giving primacy to the political executive); (Not assented to by the Governor).
Even afier three judgements of the Supreme Coi~rt, the reluctance of the State Gover~lmentto notify the Loltayukta appointment in the official Gujarat Government Gazette is surprising but not unexpected.
The lettel- of the Gujarat Government dated July 26, 2013 (delivered slt my Ahmedabad residence while I was in USA) does not indicate any invitation or interest by the Government. It states that "the Hon'ble Governor of Gujarat has appointed you as the Loltayukta . . . The swearing in ceremony for the purpose needs to be organized at the Raj Bhavan . .. to enable you to assume the office." As if the Government has no interest or role in the matter! No invitation and no notification by the government!
8. I humbly believe that the high office of Lokayukta and its occupant
(wlio is expected to inquire into the complaints against high pubic functio~-xiesincluding the Chief Minister) are entitled to utmost respect, dignity and grace to enable thein to function effectively and perform the great public duty and to carry public credibility of the institution. When powerful elements do not care to maintain that effectiveness and credibility, the institution and its occupant suffer in their credibility, effectiveness and utility.
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9. May be there is a lesson for the new Lo1;pal
6r. L o k a y ~ ~ l ~Bi!ls tfl
consider whether and to what extent the public f~nctionaries who are potentia! subjects of inquiry, should have any voice in thc4;election and appointment. Giving 5 voice and pri~nacyto such public f'unctionaries to decide who is to be their investigator, would give an impression that they want it to be their 'caged parrot' and the institution of the Lokayukta would lose all credibility and respect of the people and deter many judges from accepting.
I am r e m i ~ d e d of the falnous Transfer of Judges Case of Justice
S I4 Sheth during the Emergency. When the specially constituted full bench of
G~~jara High t Court started the hearing; the Central Government raised a question: Whether the Hon'ble Judges would like to hear the case or reclzwe
thelnselves (as they had already expressed an opinion against the transfer)?
The judges asked to approach the Chief Justice who had constituted the specia! full bench for hearing this momentous case. When the Chief Justice (who was also a transferee) was approached with a galaxy of counsels, he shot back i~lstantly: I f tlze .Government has no
conjidence itt tile judges, wind up the s l ~ o w . Within minutes, evelyone was
out of the CJ chamber and the matter proceeded. I was present as the Junior Standing Counsel for the Central Government.
I am averse to any controversy and try to keep away. The
present controversy has denigrated the office of the Loltayukta and adversely affected its credibility. The appointment has lost all the grace and dignity. The objection alleging anti-govt bias (though negatived by the courts), really hurts. Some.think that that if a person is not pro-government, he is necessarily antigovernment. They can't accept that there is third category, neither pro nor anti,
but independent and neutral. Their mind set is clear
their way or no other
The office of Lolcayukta is a lot dependent on the co-operation
and support of the government for the infrastructure, proper and adequate staff, independent investigators, budget etc for its effective functioning. I had inqi~i~.ed from the government about the infi-astl-ucture, stall; budget ctc ol'the Lokayultta. I was given one page sanctioned set ~ ! pof staff of 9 azettecl officers (most of them vacant) and 18 non- gazetted persons (including ! 1 Class IV). The current and next budget estimates were not given.
If the Loltayukta has to depend on the reluctant non-cooperative
government for all infrastructure, staff, budget etc, and to beg or fight for it, it is not in my nature. In this scenario the Loltayukta will not able to finction effectively and to f ~ ~ l f ithe l l high public expectations.
A lot of public awareness is generated about corruption of
public functionaries. Allegations are widely made. In absence of any independent credible investigation, the allegations may lingsr and stick. Many eminent public spirited and honest people are averse to becoming public functionaries in such climate of public life. An independent Lokayukta can clear & protect such people, and expose the ones found involved in wrong doing.
I had consented under a belief (proved wrong) that the invitation
to be Loltayultta would be without any dissent and controversy.
I am grateful to the judiciary that the allegation of bias is
rejected, but the psychological sting remains.
For effective functioning and for satisfying the great public
expectation of cleansing public life, the office of Lokayukta is required to be treated and accepted with due grace, dignity and respect and free from any controversy, anti with whole-hearted support. In fact it should be a common cause between the Lokayukta and the government (distinct from the public functionaries) as seen from the legislative intent. Unfortunately this cause does
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+ A : -
not appear to be shared by the government. A Lokayukta unwartec! by the government cannot get all the necessary and timely support and cooperetion from the reluctant government. The Lokayukta will be rendered ineffective, and the great public expectations would be frustrated; and I would be at the receiving end for being ineffective and failure.
I franlcly admit that I will not be able to fulfill the pubiic duty,
public need and high public expectation from the Lokayukta in the cir.cumstances. How can I take the responsibility and become the Lokayukta when my objectivity and credibility are not accepted by the government and by the public functionaries whose conduct the Lokayukta may have to investigate? Findings and recommendations - for or against a public functionary- will always be under question mark.
While offending s o many very good, well-meaning and highly
respected elders and friends, I feel greatly relieved and feel free to do what I like and support the social causes I share. I take as compliment the allegation of so-called 'bias7 of being 'anti-government' because o f my support to such social causes. If there is perceived injustice to vulnerable people at the hands of the p,overnment, I sympathise with them, try, in a small way, to serve, support and help their causes. A judge should have such sensitivity for justice and that does not make him biased and he does not lose his objectivity and he remains true to his oath to do justice without fear or favour. I derive satisfaction from such sensitivity and such work. Every human being should have such heart and feelings, more particularly those who have to render justice.
I humbly withdraw my consent for the appointment as the
Gujarat Loltayulita and decline to assume the office. Kindly accept my rccluest and relieve me.
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I sinccscly wish io bc csciisctl hy
Iiv (his : ~ ~ l l i - c l i ~ : I~ I I~ ~:~s
great psblic inconvenience and embarrassment. I genuinely wish I could have avoided that.
I hope that
fiitiire the judiciary \vould decline to participate in
reco~nrnendingor accepling any suck1 appointment (it should originate fi-cnl judiciary) if it is subject to overruling by the public functionaries whose conduct/misconduct could be the matter of investigation by him. There is clear conflict of interest of public functionaries and the appointee may get an undeserving labei of 'caged parrot'.
I am not sure whether I am right in declining the appointment as
GL; v , c 1 -
With highest personal regards, Most sincerely,
(R k Mehta)
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