R.A. Mehta is Gujarat Lokayukta

Indo Asian News Service

Gandhinagar, Aug 26 (IANS) Gujarat Governor Kamala Beniwal Friday appointed retired high court judge Justice R.A. Mehta as the state's new Lokayukta.

This information was given by a delegation of Congress legislators who called on the governor Friday afternoon to press for appointment of the Lokayukta.

According to leader of the Congress opposition in the Vidhan Sabha Shaktisinh Gohil, a notification to this effect was issued by the governor in pursuance of the powers vested in her office Thursday after directions to the government to issue the same went unheeded.

The Gujarat cabinet at its weekly meeting here Thursday set up a five-member cabinet committee to study the lokpal legislation - whenever it is passed by parliament - and amend the state Lokayukta Act in accordance with it.

The appointment was largely seen as a move to delay the appointment of a new Lokayukta - a post which has been lying unfilled for more than seven years.

The appointment of the cabinet panel came within days of the Gujarat High Court issuing a show cause notice to the state government to furnish on affidavit the status of appointment of Lokayukta on a Public Interest Litigation. The notice was issued on a PIL filed by Bhikhabhai Jethwa, father of Amit Jethwa, the RTI activist who was killed by the mining mafia.

Amit Jethwa had in April 2010 also filed a PIL in the high court for filling up the post of Lokayukta and the state government had then stated that the process was nearing completion. However, nothing happened.

Earlier, last week the Gujarat government announced the setting up of an inquiry commission under a retired Supreme Court judge M.B. Shah to enquire into the charges the state Congress party submitted to the President a few months back. The Congress had termed it as a desperate move to prevent the charges from being taken up by a lokayukta if and when the post is filled up.