Sachchidanand Gupta “Sachchey” v. State of Uttar Pradesh [28 January 2016]

                                                              NON-REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.872 OF 2015
SACHCHIDANAND GUPTA
“SACHCHEY”                        ...PETITIONER

                       VERSUS

STATE OF U.P. THROUGH
CHIEF SECRETARY & ORS.          ...RESPONDENTS

                                     AND
                  CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.733 OF 2015
                                     IN
                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.410 OF 2012

                                    WITH

                   CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.3 OF 2016
                                     IN
                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.410 OF 2012


                               J U D G M E N T


RANJAN GOGOI, J.


1.    By our order dated 16th December, 2015 in Writ  Petition  (Civil)  No.
301 of 2015 we had, in exercise of  our  power  under  Article  142  of  the
Constitution of India, appointed  Justice  Virendra  Singh  (Retd.)  as  the
Lokayukta of the State of Uttar Pradesh. Pursuant  to  the  said  order  the
Hon’ble Governor of Uttar Pradesh had issued  a  consequential  order  dated
18th  December, 2015  appointing  Justice  Virendra  Singh  (Retd.)  as  the
Lokayukta.

2.     This  Writ  Petition  under  Article  32  has  been   filed   seeking
interference with the order of the Hon’ble  Governor  dated  18th  December,
2015 primarily on the ground that this Court was  misled  by  the  State  of
Uttar Pradesh into passing the order dated 16th December,  2015  in  W.P.(C)
No.301 of 2015 appointing Justice Virendra Singh (Retd.) as the Lokayukta.

3.    The circumstances in which the appointment of Justice  Virendra  Singh
(Retd.) as the Lokayukta of the State of Uttar  Pradesh  was  made  by  this
Court on 16th December, 2015 have been  set  out  in  details  in  the  said
order. The said facts may be recapitulated.
“While deciding Writ Petition No.410  of  2012  and  other  connected  cases
decided on April 24, 2014, we had inter alia passed the following   order :-

xxx                    xxx                   xxx
"In the light of the above discussion, we hold that  Respondent  2  is  duly
holding the office of Lokayukta, U.P. under  a  valid  law  enacted  by  the
competent legislature viz the  Uttar  Pradesh  Lokayukta  and  Up-Lokayuktas
Act, 1975 as amended by the U.P.  Lokayukta  and  Up-Lokayuktas  (Amendment)
Act, 2012.  However,  we  direct  the  State  to  take  all  endeavours  for
selecting the new incumbent for the office  of  Lokayukta  and—Up-Lokayuktas
as per the provisions of the Act preferably within a period  of  six  months
from today."

xxx                    xxx                   xxx
 The period of six months with effect from 24th  April,  2014  within  which
this Court had desired that the Lokayukta should be appointed is long over.

 Alleging willful disobedience of the said directions of the Court  Contempt
Petition No.70 of 2015 was instituted before this Court which  was  disposed
of on 23.07.2015 by observing as hereunder:-
"The contempt petition is disposed of on the hope and expectation  that  the
constitutional functionaries entrusted with the duty of  making  appointment
of Lokayukta will finalize the matter  and  take  their  decision  within  a
period of thirty days from today"

In the said order we had also observed that the above  order  of  the  Court
should be brought to the notice of all the authorities concerned.
 The hope and expectation of this Court expressed  in  the  aforesaid  order
dated 23rd July, 2015 appears to be gone in vain and has not been heeded  to
by any of the constitutional functionaries associated with  the  process  of
appointment. In fact, in the above circumstances, another contempt  petition
being No.733 of 2015 has been filed before this  Court  wherein  vide  order
dated 4.12.2015 the Court had  issued  notice.  The  present  writ  petition
under Article 32 of the Constitution was  filed  on  30th  April,  2015  and
notice thereon was issued on 2nd July, 2015.
 In the aforesaid writ petition a  prayer  has  been  made  for  a  writ  or
direction commanding the State  Government  to  immediately  appoint  a  new
incumbent as Lokayukta and  dispense  with  the  services  of  Justice  N.K.
Mehrotra (Retd.), the present Lokayukta. Apart from the above,  there  is  a
prayer for initiation of contempt proceedings against  the  Chief  Secretary
of the State  of  Uttar  Pradesh  and  other  consequential  directions.  No
response to the notice issued by this Court as far  as  back  on  2nd  July,
2015 has been filed by any of the contesting  parties  including  the  Chief
Secretary, though notice has been duly served.
 After hearing the writ petition on 14th December, 2015,  we  had  permitted
the learned Advocate General of the State, who was present in the Court,  to
ensure  that  the  situation  is  remedied  and   appropriate   orders   for
appointment of the Lokayukta are passed on or before 16.12.2015 i.e.  today.
The same has also not been done.

      The facts stated above would indicate that the initial order  of  this
Court dated 24th April, 2014 and the subsequent order dated 23rd July,  2015
in Contempt Petition No.70 of 2015 has gone unheeded. The present is a  case
where the Court is confronted by the failure, if  not  the  refusal  of  the
constitutional functionaries, to comply with  the  repeated  orders  of  the
highest Court of the land. The matter is deeply regrettable and to  say  the
least is astonishing.”

4.    The issue that presently confronts the Court is whether  the  name  of
Shri Justice Virendra Singh (Retd.) which was one of the five  names  placed
before the Court on behalf of the State of Uttar Pradesh with the  statement
that three names including the name of Shri Justice Virendra  Singh  (Retd.)
had the concurrence  of  the  Hon'ble  Chief  Minister  and  the  Leader  of
Opposition (the Hon'ble Chief Justice of the High Court  had  not  expressed
his mind on any of the said names) was a misrepresentation on  the  part  of
the State as is now sought to be contended on behalf of the  petitioner.  It
is specifically asserted by the petitioner that in  the  meeting  that  took
place on 15th December, 2015 objections being raised to  the  name  of  Shri
Justice Virendra Singh (Retd.) by the Hon'ble  Chief  Justice  of  the  High
Court, the Hon'ble Chief  Minister   had  agreed  that  his  name  would  be
dropped from the panel.

5.    In this regard, we  have  been  taken  through  a  letter  dated  16th
December, 2015 of the Hon'ble Chief  Justice  of  the  High   Court  to  His
Excellency the Governor of Uttar Pradesh wherein  the  said  fact  has  been
recited and also the basis on which the Hon'ble Chief Justice  of  the  High
Court had opposed the name of Shri Justice Virendra Singh (Retd.)  has  been
set out.

6.    From the aforesaid letter of the Hon’ble  Chief  Justice,  it  appears
that 5 names, mentioned below, were suggested by the Hon’ble Chief Justice:
|(i)  Mr. Justice S U Khan                                     |
|(ii) Mr. Justice Devendra Pratap Singh                        |
|(iii)Mr. Justice Amar Saran                                   |
|(iv) Mr. Justice Shri Kant Tripathi                           |
|(v)  Mr. Justice Sunil Hali                                   |


7.    In the said letter it is further stated  that  there  was  however  no
unanimity on the names proposed by the Hon'ble Chief  Justice  of  the  High
Court. The name of  Shri  Justice  Virendra  Singh  (Retd.)  was  thereafter
suggested by  Hon’ble  Chief  Minister.  The  Chief  Justice  expressed  his
reservations as regards the name of Shri  Justice  Virendra  Singh  (Retd.).
Accordingly it was agreed that the said name would be  dropped.  Four  other
names were suggested by the Hon'ble Chief Minister which are as follows:

(i)         Mr. Justice Zaki Ullah Khan
(ii)        Mr. Justice Sanjay Misra
(iii) Mr. Justice Kalimullah Khan
(iv)        Mr. Justice Imtiyaz Murtaza

8.    In the letter of the Hon'ble Chief Justice it is also  mentioned  that
no agreement could be reached on any of the aforesaid names and the  Hon'ble
Chief Minister had  in  these  circumstances  suggested  the  name  of  Shri
Justice A.N. Mittal, a sitting judge for appointment as  Lokayukta to  which
the Hon'ble Chief Justice agreed to revert in the evening of 16th  December,
2015. In the meantime the order of this Court was passed.

9.    The names that were placed before the Court  on  16th  December,  2015
are as follows:
      (i)        Mr. Justice Virendra Singh
      (ii)       Mr. Justice Imtiyaz Murtaza
      (iii) Mr. Justice A.N. Mittal
      (iv)       Mr. Justice Sanjay Misra
      (v)        Mr. Justice Kalimullah Khan


Out of the aforesaid names, Serial Nos. (i),(ii) and  (iv)  were  stated  to
have the consensus of the Hon'ble Chief  Minister  and  the  Leader  of  the
Opposition.


10.   From the letter of the Chief Minister dated 1st January, 2016  to  His
Excellency the Governor of Uttar  Pradesh  in  connection  with  the  letter
dated 16th December, 2015 of the Hon'ble Chief Justice of High Court,  which
letter has also been  placed  before  us,  two  lists  of  names  that  were
considered on 15th and  16th  December,  2015  have  been  set  out.  List-A
consists of 3 names whereas List-B consists of names of  51  judges  of  the
High Court who had retired between 2011 and 2015. List-A referred to by  the
Chief Minister in his letter dated 01.01.2016 is extracted below:–
                                   LIST A
|Sr.No.  |Applicant              |Date of         |Present Designation |
|        |                       |Application/Lett|                    |
|        |                       |er              |                    |
|        |Hon’ble Mr.            |28.05.2014      |President, State    |
|        |Justice Virendra       |                |Consumer            |
|        |Singh                  |                |Dispute Redressal   |
|        |                       |                |Commission,         |
|        |                       |                |Uttarpradesh        |
|        |Hon’ble Justice Zaki   |02.07.2014      |Retired             |
|        |Ulla Khan              |                |                    |
|        |Hon’ble Justice Sabha  |07.11.2014      |Retired             |
|        |Jeet Yadav             |                |                    |


11.   Though there appears to be some common names in  the  lists  mentioned
in the letters of the Hon'ble Chief  Justice  of  the  High  Court  and  the
Hon'ble Chief Minister, the reaching of  any  agreement  between  the  Chief
Minister and the Leader  of  the  Opposition  on  any  of  the  three  names
furnished to the Court i.e.(i) Mr. Justice Virendra Singh; (ii) Mr.  Justice
Imtiyaz Murtaza; and (iii) Mr. Justice Sanjay Mishra is not borne  out  from
the record. In para 7 of the letter dated  1.1.2016  of  the  Hon’ble  Chief
Minister though there is mention of a consensus between the  Chief  Minister
and the Leader of the Opposition on some  names,  details  thereof  are  not
mentioned. However, in the list laid before this Court three names on  which
there was reportedly an agreement between the Chief Minister and the  Leader
of the Opposition has  been  mentioned.  Para  7  of  the  said  letter  may
therefore be reproduced below:
“7. It is material to point out that the five names of Hon’ble  Judges  were
given by the State to the Hon’ble  Supreme  Court  on  16.12.2005.   Out  of
them, on few names, there were  consensus  between  me  and  the  Leader  of
Opposition, Legislative Assembly, wherein the name of  Retired  Justice  Mr.
Virendra Singh was included, on which Chief Justice had no consensus.”


In fact from para 7, extracted above, it is clear  that  the  Hon’ble  Chief
Justice of the High Court had reservations  on  the  name  of  Shri  Justice
Virendra Singh (Retd.). In this regard, there is a subsequent  letter  dated
6th January, 2016 of the Leader of Opposition which clearly belies the  fact
that any agreement was  reached  on  any  name  between  the  Hon'ble  Chief
Minister and the Leader of Opposition.

12.     In the facts stated above, we are persuaded to hold that  our  order
appointing Shri Justice Virendra Singh  (Retd.)  as  Lokayukta  was  on  the
basis of the statement made on behalf of the State of  Uttar  Pradesh  which
now appears to be somewhat inaccurate. The picture that  emanates  from  the
above narration of facts is hazy, unclear and uncertain and we are  left  in
serious doubt as to whether the  constitutional/statutory  functionaries  or
at least two of them had, at all,  agreed  on  any  name  or  names.  It  is
unfortunate  that   constitutional/statutory   functionaries,   inspite   of
prolonged and extended meetings, continued to have serious differences on  a
relatively simple issue i.e. appointment of the Lokayukta.

13. However, we now  have  on  record  the  subsequent  reservation  of  the
Hon'ble Chief Justice of the High Court with regard to  the  suitability  of
Shri Justice Virendra  Singh  (Retd.)  as  Lokayukta  as  expressed  in  the
Hon'ble Chief Justice’s  letter dated 16th December, 2015 to His  Excellency
the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. We can only wish that the  above  reservation
of the Hon’ble Chief Justice had been placed before us before we had  passed
our earlier order dated 16th December, 2015 in  Writ  Petition  (Civil)  No.
301 of 2015 particularly when the High Court was represented  before  us  on
the said date.

14.   In view of the above reservations and having regard to the  fact  that
this Court in Justice K.P.  Mohapatra  versus  Sri  Ram  Chandra  Nayak  and
others [(2002) 8 SCC 1 (paragraph 12 and 16)] had accorded  primacy  to  the
opinion of the  Hon'ble  Chief  Justice  in  the  consultative  process  for
appointment of Lokayukta, we are inclined to recall  our  order  dated  16th
December, 2015 and instead appoint Shri Justice Sanjay Misra (Retired  Judge
of Allahabad High Court) as the Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh.  In  making  the
aforesaid appointment we have taken note  of  the  fact  that  the  name  of
Justice Sanjay  Misra  appears  in  the  common  list  of  names  that  were
discussed as mentioned in the letters of the Hon'ble Chief  Justice  of  the
High Court and the Hon'ble Chief Minister referred to above.

15.   Consequential orders in terms of the above direction may be issued  by
the authority/functionary without delay, and compliance report  be  sent  to
the Registry of this Court within a week.

16.   With the aforesaid direction and observation, the  writ  petition  and
the contempt petitions as also all other pending applications  are  disposed
of.
                                                     ....................,J.
                               (RANJAN GOGOI)


                                                     ....................,J.
                             (PRAFULLA C. PANT)

NEW DELHI
JANUARY 28, 2016

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