Supreme Court recalls its earlier order, appoints Justice Sanjay Mishra as UP Lokayukta

Supreme_Court_of_IndiaThe Supreme Court of India has today recalled its December 15, 2015 order wherein it had invoked its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India and had appointed Justice Virendra Singh, former judge of Allahabad High Court as the Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh. Apex Court has now appointed Justice Sanjay Misra, a former judge of the same High Court as the new Lokayukta.

Reversing its earlier order, the bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and PC Pant observed:

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.

Earlier on December 16 last year, hearing the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 301 of 2015, the same bench had appointed Justice Virendra Singh (Retd.) as the Lokayukta of the State of Uttar Pradesh. Pursuant to this order, on December 18, 2015, Governor of Uttar Pradesh had issued a consequential order appointing Justice Virendra Singh (Retd.) as the Lokayukta.

Challenging the above appointment, the petitioner-journalist, Sachchidanand Gupta ‘Sachchay’ approached the Court claiming that the Supreme Court was misled by the Uttar Pradesh Government into passing the order.

During the proceedings, court was supplied with a letter dated December 16, 2015 of the Chief Justice of Allahabad HC to the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. In the letter it was said that in a meeting on December 15, 2015, objections were raised to the name of Justice Virendra Singh (Retd.) by the Chief Justice of the High Court and the UP Chief Minister had agreed that his name would be dropped from the panel. Letter also set out the basis of his objections.

After a perusal of further documents, the bench observed:

…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.

Miffed with the revelation, bench observed:

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.


Opinion of High Court Chief Justice mandatory and primary

Noting the reservation of the Chief Justice of Allahabad HC, bench referred to Justice KP Mohapatra v. Sri Ram Chandra Nayak and others [(2002) 8 SCC 1], wherein the Supreme Court had held:

For such appointment, Chief Justice of the High Court would be the best person for proposing and suggesting such person for being appointed as Lokpal. His opinion would be totally independent and he would be in a position to find out who is most or more suitable for the said office. In this context, primacy is required to be given to the opinion of the Chief Justice of the High Court

…consultation with the Chief Justice is mandatory and his opinion would have primacy.


Justice Sanjay Misra to be the new Lokayukta

Bench then appointed former judge of the Allahabad HC – Justice Sanjay Misra as the Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh. Bench observed:

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.

Complete judgment can be read here.

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