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Gujarat HC upholds Lokayukta's appointment

AHMEDABAD: In a setback for Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday upheld Justice (retired) R.A. Mehta's appointment as Lokayukta by Governor Kamla Beniwal. But the state government said it would challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

The petitioners in the case termed the judgement as historic and said the government's arguments that the Governor's move to appoint the Lokayukta was arbitrary had been rejected.

"The Lokayukta's appointment in the state is constitutional, valid and legal and the government's arguments that the Governor's move to appoint the Lokayukta was arbitrary has been rejected," petitioner Anand Yagnik said.

Mehta, a former high court judge, told news channels that he would abide by his responsibilities as and when they were assigned to him.

A two-judge Bench had last October delivered a split verdict on the government's plea questioning Mehta's appointment.

While Justice Akil Kureshi had upheld the appointment, Justice Sonia Gokani disagreed. The case went to a third judge, Justice V.N. Sahai, who completed the hearing on December 29, 2011 and announced the verdict on Wednesday.

"There was a difference of opinion in the two-judge Bench and today the verdict of the third judge came and he said he agrees with the view of Justice Kureshi," Yagnik said.

The Gujarat government said it would approach the Supreme Court.

"The way forward is to study the judgement and after having the competent legal advice we shall challenge it before the honourable apex court of this country," Gujarat government spokesperson Jay Narayan Vyas told reporters.

"We will move to the Supreme Court for further remedy because we believe that the issue raised by us is fundamental to the safety of the federal structure and also very central to provisions of the Constitution of India," he said.

"This is an issue which touches constitutional provisions and if governors are permitted to work outside the ambit of the Constitution then you can't work in this country because you are having a federal structure," said Vyas.

Reacting to the judgement, the Congress said it had been proven that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- which is in power in Gujarat -- was not firm in removing corruption from the country.

"In the last several years they have been delaying the appointment of the Lokayukta and in Parliament they did not let the Lokpal Bill pass and their true face has been unveiled," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said in New Delhi.

Union minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal asked the Gujarat government to accept the verdict with respect.

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: "The Gujarat government will take necessary action in the matter after reading the court order." — IANS




Army Chief's SC move an 'unfortunate development': Govt

NEW DELHI: The government today termed the action of Army Chief Gen V K Singh going to the Supreme Court for settlement of his age issue as an "unfortunate development" and "not a healthy precedent".

Describing the matter as sensitive, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said, "It is an unfortunate development and it is not a healthy precedent either for the (Defence) Ministry or the armed forces." He was replying to a question on the sidelines of an NCC function here on whether the government is planning to send the Army Chief on leave or if it is looking at the possibility of appointing a new chief.

Asked if the government was embarrassed with Singh dragging it to the apex court on the date of birth issue, he said, "It is not a matter for public debate. It is an unhealthy precedent. It does not auger well either for the Ministry or the forces." Singh moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the government's rejection of his claim on his date of birth.

The Defence Ministry had recently rejected his contention that he was born in 1951 and not in 1950.

In its recent order, the Ministry has taken his date of birth as May 10, 1950, and not May 10, 1951, which the General has claimed as real as per his matriculation certificate. —PTIBack



Yahoo co-founder Yang resigns 

San Francisco: Yahoo Inc co-founder Jerry Yang has quit the Internet company he started in 1995, appeasing shareholders who had blasted the Internet pioneer for pursuing an ineffective personal vision and impeding investment deals that may have transformed the struggling company.

Yang's abrupt departure comes two weeks after Yahoo appointed Scott Thompson its new CEO, with a mandate to return the once-leading Internet portal to the heights it enjoyed in the 1990s.
Wall Street views the exit of "Chief Yahoo" Yang as smoothing the way for a major infusion of cash from private equity, or a deal to sell off much of its 40-percent slice of China's Alibaba, unlocking value for shareholders.




White House locked down 

Washington: The White House was locked down on Tuesday night as authorities investigated what appeared to be a smoke bomb that was tossed over the fence of the White House compound, a Secret Service spokesman said.

The device was tossed over the fence at one point when about 1,000 to 1,500 "Occupy DC" protesters were demonstrating outside the White House, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said. 

He said authorities were taking "appropriate measures to clear it." He also said that a majority of the protesters had left the area and that there had been no arrests.

President Barack Obama and wife Michelle had gone out to dinner and were not at the White House when the device was thrown over the fence but returned while the investigation was underway. 





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