Ahmedabad:  The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued notice to the state government over a PIL seeking appointment of Lokayukta as per the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986.

A division bench of Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Sonia Gokani while issuing the notice asked the state government to file its reply by August 29 when the next hearing is scheduled.

The high court asked the state government to file an affidavit detailing the present status over the appointment of lokayukta.

Gujarat government has not appointed lokayukta for the last seven years.

The PIL was filed by Bhikhabhai Jethava, father of slain Right To Information (RTI) activist Amit Jethava who was shot dead in front of Gujarat High Court in July last year.

Jethava demanded that non-appointment of lokayukta be held illegal and unconstitutional and also sought court's directions to the state government to appoint lokayukta within a stipulated period of time in accordance with the Act.

The petitioner also contended that the state has failed to appoint the lokayukta even one year after it made a statement on the same.

In June last year, the Additional Advocate General had made a statement in the High Court on a similar petition saying the consultation process for the appointment of lokayukta was already over. He had said that the state Cabinet had taken a decision in the matter and had forwarded it to the Gujarat Governor for taking an appropriate decision.

Jethava accused that either the statement of the Additional Advocate General was incorrect, which was very serious as it amounted to propriety on the part of a constitutional authority, or the state government had developed cold feet in appointing a Lokayukta.

He alleged that the government may be trying to prevent a statutory authority from investigating into allegations of corruption, misdeeds, abuse of power and personal benefit on the part of ministers and public functionaries as defined in the Gujarat Lokayukta Act.

The petitioner stated in the PIL that Gujarat had a Lokayukta till 2003 and even after more than seven years the state government has not made another appointment, thereby frustrating the Act.

He alleged that non-appointment of a Lokayukta was a deliberate failure on part of the government in fulfilling its constitutional obligation since it was mandatory to appoint
the authority as per the Act.

Jethava also alleged that there were serious complaints against the state government regarding corruption, disposal of government land at throwaway prices to industrial houses, privatisation of natural, public and community resources in the name of development, intellectual and monetary corruption and abuse of position for improper and corrupt motives.

Due to the absence of a Lokayukta there was no institution or platform in the state that could investigate such allegations, he contended.

(Agencies)