A Division bench of the
Bombay High Court at Goa comprising of Justice M.S.Sonak and Justice
Bharati Dangre today while hearing the plea by
the Goa Government seeking an extension of a further three months granted only two
months for the State to fill the vacancy of the Goa Lokayukta. The Court
also directed the government to file its compliance report.
The High Court on 23rd September
last year after hearing a petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues over the
failure of the Government to duly initiate the process of selecting the
new Lokayukta had directed the government to take effective steps to
fill up the post of Lokayukta as expeditiously as possible and in any
case within three months which deadline ended on 23rd December.
The High Court in its order had
observed that taking into consideration the mandate as well as the purpose of
enactment of the Lokayukta Act, the vacancy had to be filled as
expeditiously as possible so that the Institution of Goa Lokayukta functions
in the State.
The Government in its application
seeking an extension of three months stated that several officials in the
Administration of the State had since September 2020 tested positive for
COVID-19 including the Chief Minister of Goa.
While drawing the attention of
the Court that the Goa Lokayukta Act was enacted to provide for the
establishment of the Institution of Lokayukta to inquire into
grievances and allegations against Public functionaries, Adv. Rodrigues in his
petition filed in August last year had stated that despite being fully aware
that Lokayukta Justice P.K.Misra was due to demit office on 17th September,
the government had done nothing to start the process to look for the
Adv. Rodrigues had further stated
that it appeared that the State Government was not keen to appoint a new Lokayukta so as to give public
officials a free hand to indulge in acts of Corruption and maladministration
and that the functioning of the Lokayukta and the cases currently
pending before it would come to a grinding halt.
While strongly opposing the government’s application
today, Adv. Rodrigues submitted to the Court that the shield of COVID-19 was
selectively being chosen by the Goa Government when it suits them.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sudarshen Reddy was on 8th March
2013 appointed as Goa’s first Lokayukta who assumed charge on 14th March.
Within six months suddenly on 18th September 2013 Sudarshen
Reddy without citing any reasons left Goa in a huff after tendering his
resignation which was accepted by the Goa Governor on 17th October
Retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court
Justice P.K.Misra on 24th April 2016 was appointed as Goa’s
second Lokayukta and he assumed charge on 28th of
April 2016 while his term ended on 17th September last year
with the post now lying vacant for over four months.