Primacy of Views I: The Karnataka Lokayukta Act

In Mr. Justice Chandrashekaraiah (Retd.) v. Janekere C. Krishna, (2013) 3 SCC 117 it was held that the views expressed by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka have no ‘primacy’ in the process of appointment of the Lokayukta or Upa Lokayukta by the Governor of Karnataka.

The High Court had taken the view that since the Order passed by the Governor of Karnataka, appointing Justice Chandrashekaraiah as an Upa Lokayukta, was without consulting the Chief Justice of the High Court – the same was illegal. While that contention was accepted and the appointment of the Appellant was indeed set aside – Hon’ble Justice Radhakrishnan was quick to point out that though a consultation was necessary amongst the five dignitaries, the language of Section 3 of The Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984 was plain and unambiguous enough to be interpreted to mean that the Chief Justice of the High Court is only one of the consultees and his views have “no primacy”.

That otherwise, in the words of Hon’ble Justice Lokur recorded in a separate Judgment, consultation with the other constitutional authorities would be reduced to a farce. After all, “it must be appreciated that these constitutional authorities also have an equal say in the Executive governance of the State and there is nothing to suggest that their opinion should be subordinated to the opinion of the Chief Justice or that the Chief Justice can vet other views”.