By TCN Special Correspondent,
Ahmedabad: Why did Chief Minister Narendra Modi prefer Justice(retd) J R Vora for the post of Lokayukta in the state and is now gunning down state governor Kamla Beniwal who appointed
Justice(retd) R A Mehta.
Sources say that Vora was preferred by Modi because as a member of a division bench of the Gujarat high court, he had upheld the verdict of the Vadoara fast track court, acquitting all the accused involved in the Best Bakery mass massacre case of 2002 communal riots. Later on, the accused were tried by a court in Mumbai on the intervention of the Supreme Court and all of them were awarded punishment.
The sources in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) say that Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court S J Mukhopadhyay had first recommended the name of Justice (retd) S D Dave on December 31, 2010. The governor, as per established tradition, sent the recommendation to the state government. However, Modi did not approve the name of Justice(retd) Dave.
Sources say that Modi on February 21, 2011, wrote a letter to CJ disapproving the name of Dave and instead suggested the name of Vora. But CJ replied that Vora could not be appointed as he was already functioning as the director of the Gujarat State Judicial Academy.
While all this was going on, Dave wrote to CJ saying he was not interested to be appointed as Lokayukta. But CJ looked for another person. This time he recommended the name of Justice(retd) R A Mehta. But Modi on June 16 expressed his reservations about Mehta. He again suggested the name of Vora. But on August 2, CJ wrote a strong-worded letter to CM saying that his reservations had no justification.
“I personally tried to investigate about Mehta but I have found nothing that can make him ineligible for the post of Lokayukta in Gujarat. The fact is that he has a high reputation, great integrity and his neutrality is well acclaimed, besides the fact that he has not shown any aspiration to any government post whether central or state’’, CJ said in the letter accessed by mediapersons.
This letter, sources say, was directly sent to Modi and a copy of it to the state governor as well.
Convinced that CJ would not oblige, the state government, sources say, tried to bring about an ordinance amending the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986, with a view to cut down the role of CJ in Lokayukta appointment.
Sources say that the state government prepared the ordinance on August 18 and wanted governor’s assent. But the governor pre-empted the move by appointing Mehta as Lokayukta on August 25. Though the state government then moved the high court but the latter refused to grant stay on it.