Appointment of Justice Naval Kishore Aggarwal as Haryana Lokayukta comes under judicial scanner

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The appointment of Justice Naval Kishore Aggarwal as Lokayukta of the Haryana state has come under judicial scanner.

Hearing a petition filed by Ravinder Narwal, Justice Rameshwar Malik of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has, on Monday, issued notice of motion to the State of Haryana on a writ petition challenging the appointment of Justice Naval Kishore Aggarwal as Lokayukta of the State.

Ravinder Narwal, in his petition, claimed that the incumbent was ineligible in view of Section 11 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act. Elaborating, senior counsel Rajesh Garg and Nimrata Shergill contended on the petitioner’s behalf that Justice Aggarwal had been a judicial member of Armed Forces Tribunal at Kolkata Bench and Armed Forces Tribunal at Gauhati Bench.

Section 11 prohibited a Tribunal member’s employment under the Central or the State Government after relinquishing the post at the Tribunal. They added Justice Aggarwal had resigned from the Tribunal membership to accept the post. Yet, his appointment was liable to be quashed.

The petitioners informed the court that the matter was referred to the State Advocate-General, who gave advice in favour of the appointment. The petitioner, meanwhile, even wrote to the Governor against appointing the respondent as Lokayukta. But the impugned notification was issued, ignoring the statutory provisions of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act 2007.

The reasoning that the Lokayukta’s post was much higher than the Armed Forces Tribunal member was legally unsustainable. The question involved was not of “protocol hierarchy”, but propriety.

They further added High Court intervention became inevitable as the petitioner had filed two specific complaints against Haryana Chief Minister and some other public functionaries before the Lokayukta.

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