LUCKNOW: For the third time in a fortnight, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik today returned the file relating to appointment of Lokayukta to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The UP has been witnessing a tug-of-war between Raj Bhawan and the state government over appointing Justice (retd) Raveendra Singh as the new Lokayukta, with the file recommending Singh's name being twice returned by the Governor earlier.
A communique from Raj Bhavan said tonight that the Allahabad High Court had on July 23 asked the state government to suggest a name after consulting the chief minister, Chief Justice of the High Court and Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly.
Following the court order, the UP government had sent the file to Raj Bhawan yesterday. The communique said that Leader of the Opposition Swami Parsad Maurya today wrote to Governor Ram Naik informing him that the three members never sat together to decide the name of the Lokayukta.
Maurya also said that he was not aware of what correspondence took place between the Chief Justice of High Court and the Chief Minister.
The confrontation over the issue was started with the previous governor in the very first week after the Akhilesh Yadav government came to power in 2012, when it had sought to extend the term of the Lokayukta from six years to eight.
The government had its way and the sitting Lokayukta, N K Mehrotra, completed nine years in office. This time, the government officially recommended Singh's name on August 5. The file has since gone back and forth two times from each side.
Naik has made it clear he will not give his assent until the name is cleared in a meeting of the selection committee comprising the chief minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court.
He has also recommended that the selection committee first consider a panel of names rather than directly take an opinion on just one name.
Official sources said the government is seeking legal opinion as it has been served a notice by the Supreme Court on the issue of appointment of a new Lokayukta.
The Supreme Court had on July 3 issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on a PIL and sought a reply from the state in four weeks.
According to legal experts, the confrontation over Lokayukta's appointment was unprecedented as the state government was not on the same page as the Governor and the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.