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The plea states that the principal question before the Apex Court is what would constitute “meaningful and effective consultation” under Section 3(2)(b) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984.
The Supreme Court today issued notice in an appeal against a Karnataka High Court verdict which dismissed a challenge to the state government's decision to appoint Justice (retd) Bhimanagouda S Patil as Upa Lokayukta (Samaj Parivartana Samudaya v. Government of Karnataka).
Notice was issued by a Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justice V Ramasubramanian.
The appeal filed by Advocate on Record Amit Pai states that the principal question before the Apex Court is what would constitute “meaningful and effective consultation” under Section 3(2)(b) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984. It also poses the question as to whether the non-supply of relevant material to the Chief Justice, i.e. one of the consultees, would be contrary to the principles laid down by the Court.
After Justice (retd) Subhash B Adi retired from the post of Upa Lokayukta, the vacancy was sought to be filled by then Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in July 2018. Kumaraswamy had written to erstwhile Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari seeking his opinion on who should be appointed as Upa Lokayukta.
On September 14, 2018, the Chief Justice recommended the name of Justice (retd) AN Vengopala Gowda as the Upa Lokayukta. However, the government never proceeded on the consultation. When Justice Maheshwari demitted office, the government sought the opinion of the new Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka in June 2019.
Chief Justice Oka again recommended Justice Gowda's name. However, in November 2019 the government appointed Justice (retd) BS Patil as Upa Lokayukta, even though Chief Justice Oka did not concur with government's decision.
This decision of the state government was challenged before the Karnataka High Court, as relevant materials were not placed before the Chief Justice before the appointment of Upa Lokayukta. It was also argued that "no consultation" took place with the Chief Justice.
The High Court Bench of Justices Ravi Malimath and MI Arun had held in February this year,
Karnataka High Court
The appeal before the Supreme Court states,
"There was no effective consultation by the Chief Minister, as mentioned in Section 3(2)(b) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984, namely, Chief Justice, the Chairperson of the Karnataka Legislative Council, the Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council and the Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly."
It is further claimed,
Plea filed in Supreme Court