Bangalore:  In yet another setback to BJP government in the state, Karnataka High Court on Tuesday quashed the appointment of former judge K Chandrashekaraiah as the Upalokayukta holding that the selection procedure was "not in conformity with law".

A Division Bench headed by Justice N Kumar set aside the January 21, 2012 notification issued by the government appointing Chandrashekariah as the Upalokayukta.

The bench, comprising Justice N Kumar and Justice H S Kempanna, found that the selection procedure adopted by Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda "is not in conformity with law and hence the appointment is illegal, unconstitutional and void".

It urged the state government and Chief Minister to expeditiously start a fresh selection process as mandated by the Lokayukta Act to find a new Upalokayukta as the post cannot be held vacant for long.

The court also suggested guidelines for the selection in which Chief Justice's opinion will have the primacy. In its order, the court observed that the procedure followed by the Chief Minister in recommending the name of Chandrashekaraiah to the Governor to be appointed as the Upalokayukta was not in accordance with law.

The procedure "violates the statutory mandate as consultation with the Chief Justice is a sine qua non before he advises Governor and recommends the name......" Therefore the order of appointment made by the Chief Minister was "void and liable to be dismissed".

The petitions challenging the appointment of Chandrashekaraiah as Upalokayukta and seeking quashing of the appointment are allowed, the bench said. The court further dismissed oral plea by counsel for Chandrashekaraiah seeking eight weeks stay of the order and leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The court recently quashed appointment of Shankar Bidari as DGP and IGP. The court held the appointment of Upalokayukta "as void ab initio and non-est. Therefore, there is no question of stay".

Dismissing the application seeking leave to appeal before the Supreme Court, the court observed "though we have laid down the law and set guidelines for appointment of Lokayukta and Upalokayukta, it is on the lines of the Supreme Court judgment, copies of which were furnished to the state government by the former Chief Justice. Yet the appointment was made in this manner".

In order to see that there is no "confusion" on implementing this order, the state government should frame appropriate rules and procedures to be followed for the appointment of Lokayukta and Upalokayukta, the court held.

"If there is a vacancy in the office of the Lokayukta or the Upalokayukta and the Chief Minister decides to fill it up, he shall communicate to the Chief Justice and request him to suggest a suitable name. There is no scope for panel of names. The name should be specific to the post", it said.

"The Chief Justice must collect information from the records of the High Court, the Supreme Court or any other court, acquaint himself with the requisite data, deliberate over it and proceed with the process of suggesting a suitable name for the post. The Chief Minister in turn should inform other constitutional functionaries in writing".

The other constitutional functionaries on knowing the mind of the Chief Justice have four options-- If they agree, inform the Chief Minister; they have the liberty to disagree; justify the reasons for their disagreement and inform the Chief Minister and thereafter the Chief Minister has to take the advice of all constitutional authorities.

If there is a consensus, the Chief Minister may proceed and advise the Governor on the name arrived at for them appointment of Lokayukta or Upalokayukta. If there is no unanimity, he shall consider the reasons given by the constitutional functionaries, the court said.

(Agencies)