KPSC Appointments Tussle May Lead to Constitutional Crisis

Published: 07th January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th January 2015 06:00 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: The stalemate over appointments to the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) is unlikely to end anytime soon.

The government has not heard from the Raj Bhavan after it resent its recommendations, contending that its list conforms to all norms.

On Saturday, Governor Vajubhai Vala had returned the first list sent by the government and sought vigilance reports, vetted by the Lokayukta, for each of the nominees.

Sources in the Raj Bhavan said Vala was unlikely to approve the list unless questions raised by him were answered satisfactorily.

Legal pundits see only two ways the impasse could end: Vala gives his consent or the government sends a fresh list that meets his stipulations.

If the deadlock continues, it could lead to a Constitutional crisis. Since public service commissions are created under Article 315 of the Constitution, they cannot be left vacant for a long time, experts say.

The Supreme Court, which upheld a judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, has declared the governor enjoys discretionary powers to frame rules for such appointments.

“(According to) Article 316 of the Constitution, the Governor of a State has not only the express power of appointing the Chairman and other Members of Public Service Commission but also the implied powers to lay down the procedure for appointment,” the court said on February 15, 2013, in the Punjab vs Salil Sabhlok case.

Legal Eagles’ Take: Former Karnataka advocate-general Ashok Harnahally said the state had no option but to send a fresh list. “The governor enjoys immunity under Article 361 and cannot be dragged to court,” he said.

However, he said, the government could challenge the governor’s decision in court, but without imputing motives.

“But such a confrontation could have far-reaching Constitutional and legal implications and result in a protracted legal battle,” he said.

It is an embarrassment for the government to challenge the governor’s decision, he reckoned. “And what if the government loses the case?” he mused.

C S Dwarakanath, former chairman of the State Backward Classes Commission and senior advocate, holds a similar view.

“V R Sudarshan had all the qualities to head the commission before this 2013 Supreme Court decision. It is sad the judgment has come in the way of his appointment,” he said, at the same time stressing that all parties must respect the highest court’s decision.

Dwarakanath feels there was no need to ask for a Lokayukta-endorsed vigilance report on each of the members.

Senior advocate K V Dhanajaya feels the issue is not just legal and Constitutional.

“It is also political,” he said. In any case, the governor has the final say under Article 316, he stressed.

Sources in Raj Bhavan said the governor was unlikely to approve the list unless questions raised by him were answered satisfactorily


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