24 October 2018
New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Taking cognizance of its previous directive regarding appointment of Lokayukta, the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the application of Odisha Government seeking three months time to complete the process.
The apex court also directed Odisha Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi to specify the date for appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman organization.
Padhi had earlier been directed by the Supreme Court on April 19 to submit a status report on the steps taken for appointment of a Lokayukta before July 10 as Odisha Government in its affidavit submitted on April 9 had informed that Odisha Lokayukta Act, 2014 has come into force with effect from January 16, 2015 and the process for framing of the Odisha Search Committee Rules were under process.
Accordingly on July 7, 2018 (Monday), Odisha Government’s General Administration and Public Grievance Department issued a Gazette Notification stating “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (4) of section 1 of the Odisha Lokayukta Act, 2014 (Odisha Act 12 of 2018), the State Government hereby appoints the 7th July, 2018 as the date on which the said Act shall come into force.”
The Gazette Notification also stated on formation of a ‘Search Committee’ “and the manner of drawing panel of names for consideration of the Selection Committee for appointment of Chairperson and Members of the Lokayukta”.
However, as the Odisha Government on July 10 submitted its status report in the Supreme Court on the progress made in the appointment of Lokayukta, the apex court taking note of the non-implementation of its order issued a directive to complete the process by October 10.
Four days before the expiry of the deadline, the selection committee for appointment of Lokayukta proposed name of a law expert to be appointed as jurist by the Governor.
Leader of Opposition (LoP) Narasingh Mishra informed that while he along with the Chief Minister, Assembly Speaker and High Court Chief Justice are the four members of the selection committee, they have unanimously proposed a fifth name as per the Odisha Lokayukta Act-2015 to complete the panel.
To fulfill the conditions of the Lokayukta Act, the selection committee headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will form a five-member search team which would enlist five people for the post of Lokayukta chairperson and 15 for Lokayukta members. It would then recommend their names to the selection panel which would then select a 6-member Lokayukta Mandal.
The Lokayukta would be headed by a chairperson who would be appointed by the Governor on recommendation of the selection committee. The chairperson would either be a sitting or a retired High Court judge. The other members would include at least two judicial members, women, and persons from scheduled caste, scheduled tribe or minority.
It is worthwhile to mention that Odisha was first State to pass the Lokayukta Bill in the State Assembly on February 14, 2014, after passing of the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament in December 2013. The Bill received presidential assent in February 2015.