The tussle between Gujarat Governor Dr Kamla Beniwal and Chief Minister Narendra Modi over the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013 continues. On Monday, Beniwal returned the controversial bill, which was passed with majority in the state assembly in March.
The Modi-led government had passed the Lokayukta Bill after more a two-year battle in the Gujarat High Court and Supreme Court over appointment of Justice (retd) RA Mehta. SC had upheld Justice Mehta's appointment but Justice Mehta refused to accept the position last month.
The state government had hoped to appoint a new Lokayukta by repealing the 27-year-old act. They wanted to replace it with the new Bill in which the key powers of a Governor and Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court in appointing the Lokayukta would end up in the chief minister's lap.
The controversial bill demands the appointment of Lokayukta and at least four Uplokyuktas by a selection committee, which is in turn chaired by the Gujarat CM.
The selection committee will include a judge of the High Court (nominated by the Chief Justice), along with the Speaker, one minister, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and the Vigilance Commissioner of the state, reported Indian Express.
Beniwal also voiced objections over the clause that says the investigation report will be presented to the council of ministers rather than being tabled directly in the state assembly.
Beniwal, a Congress leader, was expected to reject the bill as it undermines her power as governor and chief justice of Gujarat High Court.
Her remarks over the clauses will be taken up during the Monsoon session of the state assembly. The assembly, however, will be in session for just three days from 30 September till 3 October as there is a public holiday on 2 October.
Beniwal's move will lead the two authorities to hawk at each other again during the small assembly session.
Here are the latest reactions by some politicians
Digvijaya Singh, Congress Spokesperson: "Would Anna (Hazare), Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and all those who supported Jan Lok Pal Bill comment on Gujarat Draft Lok Pal Bill? Would BJP comment?" he posted on Twitter.
Venkaiah Naidu, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP: "I condemn the act of (Gujarat) Governor. And advice her not to get involved in politics, she should stand by the Gujarat government," he told ANI
Jagdambika Pal, Congress leader: "If the Governor feels Bill (Lokayukta) needs further consideration she can return it, its within her constitutional rights," he told ANI.
Ali Anwar, Janta Dal United (JDU) MP: "I understand the Governor's stand, She has been right in returning it back," he told ANI. JDU was a former ally of the BJP but since Narendra Modi has been projected as BJP's prime ministerial candidate, JDU broke the alliance.
Prashant Bhushan, Advocate and Social Activist: "For 10 years Mr.Modi didn't allow Lokayukta to be appointed in Gujarat. Now he has made changes in Lokayukta such that it has become completely useless. Obviously he (Modi) doesn't want various scams in Gujarat to be investigated independently," he told the news agency.
Naresh Agarwal, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader: "Governors must not interfere much in Chief Minister's work," he told the news agency.
Jai Narayan Vyas, BJP (Gujarat cabinet): "The Governor can return the Bill to the state government for review, it is the her right," he told the news agency.