Just days after the long-pending Lokayukta was formed, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has stayed the appointment of two non-judicial members. A Division Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar stayed the appointment of retired IAS officer M Rajaram and advocate K Arumugam on Friday.
According to The Hindu, the court said that the stay was only with regard to the non-judicial members and that the Lokayukta could carry on functioning. On Monday, the anti-corruption body was set up by the state government with Retired Justice P Devadass heading the group. Retired District Judges K Jayabalan and R Krishnamoorthu were appointed judicial members.
According to advocate R Rajendran, the petitioner in the case, the appointments were illegal and not in consonance with the law. He had pointed out that Rajaram, the retired IAS officer, was previously the chairman of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission and that he cannot hold another post except in the Union Public Service Commission or any other State Public Service Commission, according to Article 319 of the Constitution.
As per a report in the Times of India, advocate Arumugam, the other non-judicial member, was said to be the Secretary of the AIADMK's Advocate's Wing in Coimbatore. Pointing to the Lokayukta Act, the court said that 'prima facie' it seemed that Arumugam was not qualified to be appointed as a Lokayukta member.
The petitioner cited Section 3(4)(f) of the Lokayukta Act which states that the the Chairperson or a Member shall not be a person holding any office of trust or profit (other than his office as the Chairperson or a Member) or be connected with any political party or carry on any business or practice any profession. According to The Hindu, Special Government Pleader AK Baskarapandian countered this by stating that the rule only applied once a member takes charge.