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Gujarat Lokayukta Appointment Rocks Parliament

New Delhi, Aug 30: The storm over the appointment of Lokayukta in Gujarat paralysed Parliament today with an agitated BJP forcing repeated adjournments of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seeking recall of Governor Kamla Beniwal
PTI August 30, 2011 22:30 IST
PTI

New Delhi, Aug 30: The storm over the appointment of Lokayukta in Gujarat paralysed Parliament today with an agitated BJP forcing repeated adjournments of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seeking recall of Governor Kamla Beniwal for what it described as her “undemocratic” action.

Tempers ran high especially in the Lok Sabha where Congress tried to counter the attack by raising the acquittal of all 12 accused in the murder case of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya.

It was trouble from the word go in the Lok Sabha which was adjourned till 1200 hours after BJP members created ruckus demanding suspension of Question Hour for taking up the issue.

The contention of the Opposition was that the Governor's action was violative of the federal character of the country.

“We are going to approach the President seeking recall of the Governor,” BJP veteran L K Advani said amid frequent interruptions by a section of Congress members from Gujarat who had been finding fault with the state government.

Raising the matter, Advani said while the Constitution provided that the Governor would act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, it was violated in case of Gujarat as the Governor appointed the Lokayukta without consulting the Chief Minister.

“Therefore, it is a fit case to be taken up by the House.  Parliament can take note of it. We will raise the matter with the President. We will seek recall (of Governor)”, he said.

Due to uproar, the Lok Sabha failed to transact any business as it was adjourned, first till noon, then till 2 PM, then 3 pm and ultimately for the day.

While Rajya Sabha took up the Question Hour, it witnessed repeated adjournments since Zero Hour and was then finally adjourned for the day.

It was a similar story in the Rajya Sabha where Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley alleged that “this constitutional crisis has been created at the behest of those in power in Delhi... This Governor should not stay in office even for a minute.”

BJP members alleged that the appointment was a breach of federal principles and accused the Governor of acting at the behest of the UPA government at the Centre. The Gujarat Governor had appointed R A Mehta as Lokayukta without consulting the Narendra Modi government, they said.

In the Upper House, Jaitley contended that the Governor had notified the appointment of Lokayukta “without the aid and advice” of the Council of Ministers in the state.

Congress members from Gujarat raked up the issue of the murder of senior BJP leader Haren Pandya in the wake of the Gujarat High Court acquitting all the accused. Pandya, a former state Home Minister, was shot dead on March 26, 2003.

The Congress members waved photographs of Pandya and indulged in heated exchanges with their BJP counterparts, who were showing placards like ‘Stop the Murder of Democracy in Gujarat' and ‘Raj Bhavan in Gujarat has become Congress Bhavan'.

Countering the BJP in Lok Sabha, Jagdish Thakor (Cong) accused the Modi government of “catching the innocent and not the guilty” and alleged that law and order had completely failed in Gujarat.

“Haren Pandya was brutally murdered. 60 bullets were pumped into him and the real killers are roaming around scot-free”, Thakor said referring to the acquittal of all the accused in the case.

Earlier, when the House met for the day, BJP members created uproar over the issue, forcing its adjournment till noon.

BJP members trooped into the well demanding a reply from the Prime Minister on the issue.

Jaitley said the person who has been appointed as the state Lokayukta has attended quasi political rallies. “How reports of such a person could be trustworthy,” he asked, saying reports of a Lokayukta appointed with “such malafides” can not be trusted.

He also questioned how the Chief Justice can suo motu announce the name of Lokayukta without consulting the state Government, especially at a time when questions about judicial accountability are being raised.

Narrating the sequence of events, Jaitley said the Governor did not give the recommendation on the appointment of the Lokayukta for three years after the state government recommended the name of a judge for the post in 2009.

The Upper House also witnessed arguments between Chairman Hamid Ansari and Jaitley on whether persons in high offices can be discussed.

Jaitley argued that in a situation where a Governor has acted without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, his or her role can be taken up in the House. He said both the Houses in the past have even discussed even the recall of governors.

BJD and NDA ally JD-U members were also on their feet in support of BJP.

Noting that Gujarat is a text book example for every state, Jaitley said if this was not stopped, “it will be repeated in every state.”

Quoting Article 163 of the Constitution, he said the Governor is bound to act as per the aid and advice of the council of ministers. PTI