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SC appoints Virendra Singh as Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta

In an unusual order, the Supreme Court on Wednesday exercised its constitutional authority and appointed former High Court judge, Justice Virendra Singh, as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh after the state government failed to comply with its directives.

In an embarrassment for the SP government in Uttar Pradesh, the Bench examined a list of nominees and ordered the appointment.

“The failure of constitutional functionaries to comply with the orders of the highest court of the land is deeply regretted and astonishing,” a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, adding, “We, therefore, proceed to exercise our right under Article 142 of the Constitution to remedy the situation by passing an appropriate order.” 

The court said that it appoints Justice Singh as Lokayukta and asked the state government to file a report by December 20 indicating compliance of its order.

The Bench regretted that its several orders have not been “heeded” by the constitutional functionaries -- the chief minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of the Allahabad high court.

In the forenoon, the Bench took strong note of the submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state government, that though it had shortlisted five names but no consensus has been arrived at on a specific person.

The Bench then asked Sibal to provide the names by 12.30 PM on Wednesday itself and said, “we know how to get our orders complied with”.

The law provides that a high-powered committee of the chief minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of the concerned high court together appoints the chief of the state ombudsman.

Earlier on December 14, the Apex Court had rapped the UP government for not appointing Lokayukta in the state despite its directions, saying it seemed that appointing authorities have their “own agenda”.

The Bench was hearing the pleas filed by Mahendra Kumar Jain and lawyer Radhakant Tripathi seeking a direction to the state to appoint the Lokayukta at the earliest in pursuance of the Supreme Court orders.

During brief hearing, Sibal, who provided to the court names of five former judges for the post of Lokayukta, said that the Chief Minister and the Leader of Opposition have no objections to three names and the Chief Justice of the High Court has not expressed his opinion on any of them.

“There is no impasse. We will clear it. We are going to exercise our power under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution,” the Bench observed.

Article 142 provides extraordinary powers to the Supreme Court to enforce compliance of its order.

“The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or orders so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe...,” the Article reads.

Irked over repeated non-compliance of its various orders on the issue, it noted that in the fresh petition, the UP Chief Secretary did not file the reply despite being served with the court notice.

The Bench, in its order, referred to orders including the one which was passed on April 24 last year, asking the state government to take steps for selecting new incumbent of Lokayukta Justice (retd) NK Mehrotra within six months.
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