PANAJI: A division bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising of Justice M S Sonak and Justice Bharati Dangre today while hearing the plea by the Goa Government seeking an extension of a further three months granted only two months for the State to fill the vacancy of the Goa Lokayukta. The Court also directed the government to file its compliance report.

The High Court on 23rd September last year after hearing a petition filed by Adv Aires Rodrigues over the failure of the Government to duly initiate the process of selecting the new Lokayukta had directed the government to take effective steps to fill up the post of Lokayukta as expeditiously as possible and in any case within three months which deadline ended on 23rd December.   

The High Court in its order had observed that taking into consideration the mandate as well as the purpose of enactment of the Lokayukta Act, the vacancy had to be filled as expeditiously as possible so that the Institution of Goa Lokayukta functions in the State. 

The Government in its application seeking an extension of three months stated that several officials in the Administration of the State had since September 2020 tested positive for COVID-19 including the Chief Minister of Goa.  

While drawing the attention of the Court that the Goa Lokayukta Act was enacted to provide for the establishment of the Institution of Lokayukta to inquire into grievances and allegations against Public functionaries, Adv Rodrigues in his petition filed in August last year had stated that despite being fully aware that Lokayukta Justice P K Misra was due to demit office on 17th September, the government had done nothing to start the process to look for the next Lokayukta.

Adv Rodrigues had further stated that it appeared that the State Government was not keen to appoint a  new Lokayukta so as to give public officials a free hand to indulge in acts of Corruption and maladministration and that the functioning of the Lokayukta and the cases currently pending before it would come to a grinding halt.

While strongly opposing the government’s application today, Adv Rodrigues submitted to the Court that the shield of COVID-19 was selectively being chosen by the Goa Government when it suits them.  

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sudarshen Reddy was on 8th March 2013 appointed as Goa’s first Lokayukta who assumed charge on 14th March. Within six months suddenly on 18th September 2013 Sudarshen Reddy without citing any reasons left Goa in a huff after tendering his resignation which was accepted by the Goa Governor on 17th October 2013.

Retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court Justice P K Misra on 24th April 2016 was appointed as Goa’s second Lokayukta and he assumed charge on 28th of April 2016 while his term ended on 17th September last year with the post now lying vacant for over four months.