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Lokayukta issue: HC seeks affidavit from Govt

SHILLONG: The High Court of Meghalaya has asked the Chief Secretary Barkos Warjri to file a comprehensive affidavit before the next hearing on January 4 regarding the provision of a non- judicial member becoming the chairperson of Lokayukta.
Earlier, the High Court had expressed reservation over Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2014 which allowed a non- judicial member to become the Chairperson of Lokayukta.
Earlier on December 17, when the case came up for hearing, the Advocate General  BP Todi admitted  that the provision prima facie appears to be creating an anomalous situation, yet  he did not want to take a stand or express any opinion to be placed on record.
At the end, he only stated  that he will discuss the matter with the State Government. But that nevertheless, he also stated that as per his understanding of the provision, the first option for appointment of Chairperson of Lokayukta should go to a retired Chief Justice or Judge of High Court, and then, in the case of their  non-availability, may be exercised for an eminent person.
Making observations about the statement of Advocate General, the High Court said that   Advocate General, not only occupies the office of supreme law officer of the State but he is also a constitutional functionary, therefore, whatever the opinion he expresses in Court directly or indirectly cannot be brushed aside lightly.
” As such, it is expected of the State Government and its bureaucracy to provide as much space to the Advocate General as is required to maintain the independence of his office.  In case, the opinion of an Advocate General is not accepted or the independence of his office is compromised by the conduct of his client, namely, the State Government, it would not be hove of him to continue with the office”, the High Court said.
According to the High Court, even if  Todi feels hesitant to make an independent statement or express independent opinion, “we are prima facie satisfied that the provision in question being contrary to the aims and objects of the enactment is offending and may not be sustainable in the eye of law. In the premises, we again direct the Chief Secretary to file a comprehensive affidavit before the next date of hearing”.

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