Invoking its constitutional powers, the Supreme Court today appointed a former high court judge Justice Virendra Singh as Uttar Pradesh's Lokayukta after the state government failed to comply with its directives.
The apex court while making the appointment that came as an embarrassment to the SP government also expressed its disapproval over the "failure" of constitutional functionaries to comply with the orders of the highest court of the land.
The UP government failed to meet the Supreme Court deadline to appoint Lokayukta even after two rounds of marathon talks, which failed to come up with a consensus name.
After a five-hour long meeting of three-member selection committee that ended around last midnight failed to arrive at a conclusion, talks resumed this morning at the residence of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow.
But even that meeting, lasting two hours, failed to come up with a name despite Supreme Court order that the state government should submit a compliance report by today.
The apex court ordered the appointment of Virendra Singh, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court, after it examined 5 short-listed names for the post of the state's ombudsman and asked the state government to file a report by December 20 indicating compliance of its order.
"The failure of constitutional functionaries to comply with the orders of the highest court of the land is deeply regretted and astonishing," a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, adding, "We, therefore, proceed to exercise our right under Article 142 of the Constitution to remedy the situation by passing an appropriate order."
The bench regretted that its several orders have not been "heeded" by the constitutional functionaries -- the chief minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of the Allahabad high court.
In the forenoon, the bench took strong note of the submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state government, that though it had shortlisted five names no consensus has been arrived at on a specific person.
The bench then asked Sibal to provide the names by 12.30 PM today itself and said, "we know how to get our orders complied with".
The law provides that a high-powered committee of the chief minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of the concerned high court together appoints the chief of the state ombudsman.
Earlier on December 14, the apex court had rapped the UP government for not appointing Lokayukta in the state despite its directions, saying it seemed that appointing authorities have their "own agenda".
The bench was hearing the pleas filed by Mahendra Kumar Jain and lawyer Radhakant Tripathi seeking a direction to the state to appoint the Lokayukta at the earliest in pursuance of the Supreme Court orders.