Primacy of Views II: Justice Mohapatra, (2002) 8 SCC 1

The SC in Justice Mohapatra, (2002) 8 SCC 1 had “accorded primacy to the opinion of the Hon’ble Chief Justice in the consultative process for appointment of Lokayukta”. We have been reminded so in Sachchidanand Gupta v. State of Uttar Pradesh, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 872 of 2015], decided on 28.01.2016.

Lokur Saab in Justice Chandrashekaraiah, (2013) 3 SCC 117 however had a different opinion. “I would, therefore, confine the law laid down in Justice Mohapatra to the facts of that case only. In any event, the view expressed in Justice Mohapatra is not helpful in interpreting Section 3(2)(b) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984 and I leave the matter at that… The mechanics of the working of a statute has to be decoded from the contents of the statute and the words used therein; otherwise there is a possibility of committing a serious error. If, as a general principle, it is held (as has been argued before us) that the view of the Chief Justice must have primacy over the views of everybody else, how would one explain the omission of the Chief Justice in the consultation process in the Kerala Lokayukta Act, 1999? Similarly, if as a general principle, it is held that the view of the Chief Minister must have primacy over the views of everybody else, how would one explain the omission of the Chief Minister in the consultation process in the Orissa Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 1995? It is for this reason that I would hold that a statute must be considered and understood on its own terms.”

The Reference to a Larger Bench is inevitable. I agree with Lokur Saab.

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