MP Lokayukta: A Case of Favouritism

The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh appointed Naresh Kumar Gupta as the new Lokayukta of the state on Tuesday, reflecting gross political nepotism. The post was lying vacant since July 2016, after the retirement of former Supreme Court Justice PP Naolekar and was being provisionally held by Justice UC Maheshwari, the Deputy Lokayukta of the state.

However, the recent appointment of Justice (Retd) Naresh Gupta as the new Lokayukta has sparked a major controversy and raised many eyebrows, since Gupta is six years junior to Maheshwari. Traditionally, seniority has been given precedence during appointments throughout history. Going by that, the promotion of Maheshwari to the post of the state’s Lokayukta was expected. Instead, possible lobbying and favoritism have ensured that Gupta occupies the chair. As per Lokayukta Act, the appointment of Lokayukta is done with the consent of leader of the opposition and chief justice of the High Court.

When asked about his response to the recent developments, Maheshwari said, “I will decide what to do later.” While Justice Maheshwari did not give a concrete reply, one thing is clear, the allegations of corruption and political nepotism have reasonable grounds.

The Congress party and anti-corruption activists have protested the appointment. “Government has appointed a Lokayukta without a transparent and fair proceeding. It is highly unethical that a senior judge is now being forced to report a junior one”, claims social activist Ajay Dubey.

This appointment is not systematic and smacks of inherent biases. Considering the level of the appointment, the decision reeks of political collusion of the highest order. The BJP government in MP needs to come clean, and the clear the air around this appointment which is shrouded in mystery.

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