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HC stays appointment of two members to Lokayukta

twitter-logoPTI | April 5, 2019 | Updated 21:40 IST

Madurai, Apr 5 (PTI) The Madras High Court bench here Friday stayed the appointment of two non-judicial members to the state Lokayukta on a petition alleging political consideration and violation of norms in their choice. Justices N Kirubakaran and S S Sundar in their interim order stayed the appointment of M Rajaram, a member of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), and that of K Arumugam, AIADMK advocates wing functionary and a public prosecutor, and adjourned the matter to April 22. However, they made it clear the stay was only in respect of the two members and there was no bar on the Lokayukta to start functioning with its chairman and other members. It was only on April 1, the Tamil Nadu government issued a notification, saying retired high court judge P Devadass is the chairperson of the five-member Lokayukta. Former district judges K Jayabalan and R Krishnamoorthy are the two judicial members and retired IAS officer M Rajaram and advocate K Arumugam are the two non-judicial members of the anti-corruption body. Petitioner R Rajendran, who sought the quashing of the appointment of the two, contended that a TNPSC member could not be appointed to the anti-corruption body as per norms, and alleged political considerations behind the selection of Arumugam to the post. The appointment of Arumugham violated the doctrine of public trust, he claimed, adding that if such persons were allowed to be members of the Lokayukta, the body would only be an extension of the ruling party. The bench said the court was "happy" that the government had enacted the Tamil Nadu Lokayukta Act with the laudable objective to weed out corruption and to inquire into the allegations of corruption against public servants. In this case, the appointment of the two non-judicial members to the Lokayukta had been questioned, the judges said. It further observed that there should not be any violation or allegation against the persons to be appointed as members of a very important forum like Lokayukta. They said in the case of Arumugam, prima facie it appeared he was not qualified to be appointed as member of the Lokayukta. Since Rajaram was serving as a member of the TNPSC, his appointment was not in accordance with the provision of the law, the bench said. Also, the judges rejected the plea of the special government pleader that the question of qualification would come only after the members took charge as the non-judicial members, and hence no interim orders could be passed. Ordering notice to the secretary to the Personnel and Administrative Reforms department and the two members, the judges adjourned the matter. PTI SSN NVG KJ KJ

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