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The post has been vacant for over two years, following the retirement of the last Lokayukta, Justice (retd.) DP Buch who had been appointed in 2013.
Former judge of the Gujarat High Court, Justice (retd.) Rajesh H Shukla has been sworn in as the fifth Lokayukta for the State of Gujarat.
Born in 1956, Justice (retd.) Shukla enrolled as an advocate in 1981. He was appointed as a City Civil and Sessions Judge in 1994 and thereafter went on to serve as a Special Judge for Anti-Corruption Bureau cases and as a Special Judge for CBI cases.
Later, he was also appointed to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal before being elevated as a High Court Judge in September 2007. He was made a permanent judge in May 2009. He retired from the office of High Court judge in December 2018.
In 2010, Justice Shukla granted conditional bail to incumbent Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) concerning the extrajudicial killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
The office of Gujarat Lokayukta has been mired in a fair amount of controversy in the recent past. The post has been vacant for over two years, following the retirement of the last Lokayukta, Justice (retd.) DP Buch who had been appointed in 2013.
Prior to that, the post had been lying vacant for about 10 years since 2003. Another former High Court judge, Justice (retd.) RA Mehta was appointed by the State's Governor as Lokayukta in 2011.
However, the same was fiercely opposed by the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat Government leading to a two-year court battle that eventually saw the Supreme Court upholding Justice (retd.) Mehta's appointment.
Justice (retd.) Mehta declined to take up the post after the Court battles concluded, stating "A Lokayukta unwanted by the government cannot get all the necessary and timely support and cooperation from the reluctant government."
As per reports, the first Gujarat Lokayukta was DH Shukla, who served from July 26, 1988, to July 25, 1993. The second Lokayukta was IC Bhatt who served from November 10, 1993, to November 9, 1998. The post was then occupied by SM Soni from November 25, 1998 to November 24, 2003.
The Lokayukta is an anti-corruption ombudsman appointed for each State. Once appointed, the Lokayukta cannot be dismissed or transferred by the Government. A fixed tenure is prescribed to ensure the independence of the statutory authority.