In a spilt verdict, the Gujarat high court today referred the controversial appointment of the state Lokayukta to a larger bench. While Justice Akil Qureshi upheld the appointment of justice RA Mehta by governor Kamala Beniwal, justice Sonia Gokani, the other judge on the division bench, disagreed.
The Modi government had challenged the appointment of justice Mehta as the Lokayukta, a post lying vacant since 2003.
The government argued that the appointment was challenged as the Lokayukta enjoyed the backing of the Congress and Raj Bhawan seemed to be acting at the instance of the opposition party.
On 25 August, Beniwal, by a notification, appointed justice Mehta as Gujarat Lokayukta, bypassing the state government, which had failed to act on the file for months.
The Modi government then approached the court challenging the appointment as unconstitutional and made bypassing the state government.
A division bench accepting the contention by the governor's counsel SN Shelat said a governor or a member of his or her office could not be made a respondent under Article 361 of Constitution and asked the state government to amend the petition dropping the governor's name as a respondent in it.