Bhopal: Two Congress stalwarts from the state, Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha and leader of Opposition Ajay Singh, have come face-to-face over the appointment of retired Justice NK Gupta as the new Lokayukta.
A tweet by eminent lawyer Vivek Tankha on the appointment of Lokayukta stirred up a row with his tweet, “Controversial app of Lok Aayukta n MP-a person Ju six yrs as judge to UpLA. Wondering how MP CJ & LOP cd accept such gross transgression.”
In defence, leader of Opposition Ajay Singh said, “I fail to understand how can I be blamed, when by law it is the Chief Justice who recommends the name.” Singh argued that Justice NK Gupta was the only name recommended by the MPCJ.
“Since the Chief Justice with his superior wisdom concurred, I also did the same. I had no idea who is senior or junior in the hierarchy of judges,” Ajay Singh added.
Speaking to TOI, Tankha said he was surprised that only one name was recommended for the constitutional post. The Rajya Sabha MP argued that the process of appointment of the Lokayukta must be transparent. “A panel of retired Supreme Court and High Court chief justices and justices is prepared. Thereafter, the seniormost and the best is appointed,” Tankha said.
Tankha is peeved that Ajay Singh did not consult one of the lawyers within the Congress. “Ajay Singh is not a lawyer. He should have consulted Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid or even me,” Tankha said. “I am getting a lot of phone calls from civil society members and retired judges who are anguished over the appointment.”
Singh explained, “There was no Lokayukta in the state for a year. So, I wrote a letter to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on September 19 that a Lokayukta needs to be appointed if he sincerely believes in zero tolerance for corruption. Ten days later, the chief minister wrote to the CJ asking for appointment of Lokayukta and on October 3, the name of Justice NK Gupta was recommended by the CJ. On October 6, I received a letter from chief minister enclosing the letter from the chief justice?”
Meanwhile, Tankha’s tweet drew flak from BJP with senior leader Hitesh Vajpayee. “There was no controversy involved in the appointment of Lokayukta as it is a statutory body and appointments are made through consensus. But, the way Tankha mentioned Ajay Singh, his own party man and LOP, it seems that everything is not normal in the Congress,” said Vajpayee reacting to the tweet.
Vajpayee further alleged that Tankha’s reaction came as he was unhappy over the name selected for the post. He was expecting some other name to be appointed to the coveted post. Tankha, however, ruled out any intention saying BJP is free to file a contempt case.