Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the appointment of Justice (retired) R.A. Mehta as Gujarat Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal, saying the verdict reflects that nobody is above the law.
A delighted Setalvad said the verdict of the apex court shows that the voice of the people cannot be suppressed.
"I think the Supreme Court has upheld the deepest principles of constitutional governance. The Chief Minister had shown utter arrogance and contempt for the law, he did not want an independent person like Justice Mehta to occupy that chair. And I think the Supreme Court by upholding the decision of the High Court has upheld the highest principles of constitutional governance and reimposed the faith of the common man in constitutional democracy not just in electoral mobocracy," she told the media in Mumbai.
Setalvad also raised questions on the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government in Gujarat's move to oppose the appointment of Lokayukta in the state for the last seven years.
"In any democracy, you have elections to vote people to power; but you have the judiciary to keep control of that power. If elected representatives think that they can get away with the arrogance of mob rule, the arrogance of the majority they cannot. Therefore, the principles of the judiciary, an independent judiciary in the country is meant to uphold the principles of constitutional governance. Why had the Gujarat Government opposed the appointment of a Lokayukta for seven years? Why did the Gujarat Government not want an independent judge to probe allegations of corruption?" asked Setalvad.
"Obviously, there were worried about hiding something. So, I think it's very important that an independent person and the post of Lokayukta has been upheld. The people of Gujarat will now be able to take their complains to the Lokayukta and expose whatever allegations of corruption that they are against the government," she added.
In a blow to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court earlier today upheld the appointment of Justice (retired) Mehta as the state's Lokayukta by Governor Beniwal.
The apex court, which rejected the Modi government's contention that the Lokayukta was appointed unilaterally by the Governor and hence had breached the constitutional norms and was done without taking its consent, said that appointment was valid as the Governor had appointed the Lokayukta after taking into consideration the views of the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court.
Governor Beniwal had appointed Justice (retired) Mehta to the post of Lokayukta in Gujarat on August 25 last year. The post had been lying vacant for the last eight years.
The Gujarat High Court had earlier on January 18 last year upheld the appointment of Lokayukta by the Governor, while dismissing the plea of the state challenging it. (ANI)