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Gujarat governor returns Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013, again

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Gujarat governor returns Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013, again
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Ahmedabad: Setting the stage for another confrontation with Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, Governor Kamla Beniwal on Monday returned the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013 passed by the Assembly in April this year.

"The Governor has not given her assent to Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013, which was passed in the State Assembly in April this year, and has sent it back to the government for review," state government spokesperson and Finance Minister Nitin Patel said .

Patel declined to elaborate the grounds on which the Governor sent the Bill back to the government.

"We have just received the communication from the Governor and we are yet to go through it. So, at this point, we don't exactly know that on what points the review has been sought," he said.

According to sources, the Governor, in her two-page communication to the government, had suggested a review of almost all the new provisions of the Bill which aimed at replacing the existing Gujarat Lokayukta Act.

The Modi government and the Governor had been at loggerheads on the issue of appointment of Lokayukta in the state.

The Governor, bypassing the state government, had appointed Justice (retd) R A Mehta as Lokayukta on August 25, 2011 to a post which was lying vacant for last eight years then.

Mehta's appointment had resulted into a long legal battle due to which the post of Lokayukta is still lying vacant in the state.

On April 2, state Assembly had passed the bill, which aims to curtail the power of Governor and chief justice of the high court in the appointment of the corruption watchdog.

The new bill has proposed to give all powers regarding appointment to a selection committee headed by chief minister and wants the state Governor to act on recommendations of this committee. The chief justice virtually has no role under the new bill.

In existing Lokayukta Bill 1986, the power of selection of Lokayukta is with the Governor and the chief justice of high court.

The new Bill was introduced in the House after state government lost the legal fight over the Governor's move to appoint Justice (retd) R A Mehta as Lokayukta was upheld by the high court as well as supreme court earlier this year.

The whole controversy took a new twist last month when Mehta, blaming the "mind-set and attitude of the state government," declined to take charge of office of the Lokayukta.

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