Will appoint Lokayukta within three months: Nagaland tells SC

New Delhi:The Nagaland government on Wednesday gave an undertaking before the Supreme Court that it would appoint the state Lokayukta within three months.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which was hearing a PIL seeking appointment of an anti-graft ombudsman in every state, took note of the affidavit of the Nagaland chief secretary that the ombudsman under the Nagaland Lokayukta Act, 2017 would be selected and appointed within three months.

“Further, it has been stated by the Chief Secretary that the state of Nagaland undertakes to ensure that the appointments to the office of the Lokayukta will be completed within three months from today,” the bench, also comprising justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph, noted in its order.

In view of the statements made in the affidavit, “we leave it to the authority concerned to effect necessary amendments and to complete the process of appointment in the office of Lokayukta within the time undertaken that is three months from today,” it said. 

Earlier, the apex court was not impressed with the Nagaland government’s submissions in support of amendments to a local law to ensure the chief minister’s role in selection and appointment of Lokayukta.

It had also summoned the Nagaland chief secretary to interact on the issue of change in the local law governing selection and appointment of Lokayukta in the state.

The court is hearing a petition, filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, which has sought appointment of Lokayukta in every state.

It has also sought a direction to states to provide adequate budgetary allocation and essential infrastructure for effective functioning of the Lokayuktas.

According to the PIL, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013 had received presidential assent on January 1, 2014, and came into force from January 16, 2014, but the executive has not established a Lokpal yet.

The petitioner has alleged that many state governments were “deliberately weakening” the Lokayukta by not providing adequate infrastructure, sufficient budget and workforce.

The apex court has been also dealing with the issue of appointment of Lokayuktas or the anti-graft ombudsmen in 11 other states, including West Bengal, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Odisha.

The top court had earlier asked the chief secretaries of 11 states to specify the reasons for not appointing the anti-corruption ombudsman in the respective states even after the law was enacted in 2013.

12 states to appointed Lokayukta : SC

 The Supreme Court today asked the chief secretaries of 12 states to specify why they have not appointed a Lokayukta.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi also asked the chief secretary of Odisha to apprise the court about the status of the Lokayukta in state and said the apex court has no information whether it has an anti-corruption ombudsman or not.

The 12 states which have been asked to give reasons for not appointing a Lokayukta are Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi and West Bengal.

The apex court also asked the 12 states to specify by when they would appoint a Lokayukta.

Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, states that every state shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta.

The apex court was hearing a PIL, which also sought a direction to the states to provide adequate budgetary allocation and essential infrastructure for effective functioning of Lokayuktas.

According to the PIL, filed by advocate and Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, received presidential assent on January 1, 2014 and came into force from January 16, 2014 but the executive has not established a Lokpal yet.

According to the petitioner, many state governments are “deliberately weakening” the Lokayukta by not providing adequate infrastructure, sufficient budget and workforce.

Allahabad HC quashes prev SP govt’s order exempting Lokayukta from RTI

Allahabad HC quashes prev SP govt's order exempting Lokayukta from RTI
Allahabad HC quashes prev SP govt’s order exempting Lokayukta from RTI

The Allahabad High Court has ruled that the Lokayukta is within the purview of the Right to Information Act, quashing a 2012 notification that kept the anti-corruption ombudsmen out of the transparency law’s ambit.

Rejecting the plea of the government counsel that the notification was just and lawful, the Lucknow bench of the high court struck it down holding that it was beyond the authority of the state and was issued in an illegal manner.

The notification was issued on August 3, 2012 by the then Samajwadi Party Government.

The bench comprising justices Sudhir Agrawal and Virendra Kumar II passed the order on Thursday on a writ petition by social activist Nutan Thakur.

The bench was concerned that Lokayukta agency was a forum for complaints against bureaucrats and hence information seekers may do good by bringing the information to public regarding the status of inquiries about such alleged wrong doers.

It advocated that the state should make laws for forfeiture of properties collected by wrong doings.

The petitioner had challenged the notification contending that exclusion of Lokayukta agency in exercise of power under Section 24 of the RTI Act was illegal and arbitrary as Lokayukta agency was not an intelligence or security organisation under the provision.

Allowing the petition, the bench said that after going through the entire Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayuktas Act 1975, it did not find that Lokayukta agency was an intelligence or security organisation or institution.

“Therefore, in our view notification of August 3, 2012 is an unlawful and illegal exercise on the part of State Government, hence we strike it down as illegal and beyond the authority of ‘State’ as also being outside the purview of Section 24(4) of RTI Act 2005,” observed the bench.

Section 24(4) of the RTI Act provides that nothing contained in the RTI Act shall apply to intelligence and security organisation as that government may specify from time to time by notification in the official gazette. However, cases related to corruption and human rights violation are liable for disclosure.

( Source – PTI )

HC irked with Lokayukta’s functioning

bhcThe Bombay High Court has expressed shock over the arbitrary manner in which Maharashtra Lokayukta was functioning and warned its chief with a contempt notice if it fails to comply with the court’s orders.

A division bench of justices V M Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi was irked when it was informed that Lokayukta M L Tahaliyani was hearing and passing orders in a matter despite the high court directing it to not do so.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by ‘The Middle Income Group Co-Op Housing Society Bandra East Group Limited’, challenging an order passed by the Lokayukta directing the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) no to act against eviction of occupants of a dilapidated building in suburban Bandra.

The Lokayukta had passed the order after some of the occupants filed a complaint there alleging that they are being evicted without following due procedure laid down in law.

Senior counsel Iqbal Chagla, appearing for the petitioners (who are also occupants of the building but are ready to shift), argued that the Lokayukta does not have jurisdiction to pass interim orders under the Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act, 1971.

Advocate Vishwajit Sawant, appearing for MHADA, told the HC that the authority will take at least eight weeks to issue show-cause notice to the petitioners, who are the occupants, after which hearing will be given to them and only then an order will be passed.

The high court had on August 4 stayed further hearing before the Lokayukta pending hearing and final disposal of this petition.

“Prima facie, we are of the view that Lokayukta does not have jurisdiction to pass interim order, direct the public or the government authorities to act or prevent them from acting under any of the provisions of the said Act. The impugned order is stayed,” the HC had said on August 4.

However, on August 26 the court was informed by the petitioners that despite this order, the Lokayukta was passing orders in the matter.

“We are shocked with this behaviour. Doesn’t the Lokayukta chief realise that he is subordinate to the High Court? This is contemptuous. We will issue contempt against him. How can he (Lokayukta) hear and pass orders in a matter that has been stayed by us,” Justice Kanade said.

The court adjourned the petition for further hearing till September 1 and said, “We are repeating that till this petition is pending, all proceedings pertaining to this matter before the Lokayukta are stayed.

Delhi HC to Centre:Decide PIL for setting up Lokayukta in all states

Delhi HC to Centre:Decide PIL for setting up Lokayukta in all states
Delhi HC to Centre:Decide PIL for setting up Lokayukta in all states

Delhi High Court today asked the Centre to take a decision within three months on a PIL seeking setting up of an “effective, impartial, independent and strong” Lokayukta in all the states of the country.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the Ministry of Law and Justice to treat the petition as a representation and to take a decision within three months.
It also asked the government to communicate its decision to the petitioner, advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who was given liberty to approach the court if he was aggrieved by the outcome.

With these directions the court disposed of the matter.

The court’s order came after Central Government standing counsel Jasmeet Singh said that Upadhyay’s representation has been received by the ministry and the issue raised by him is under consideration.

The government counsel sought time for arriving at a decision.

Apart from seeking setting up of Lokayuktas in all the states, for ensuring redressal of citizens’ grievances in a time bound manner, Upadhyay has also sought implementation of the ‘United Nations Convention Against Corruption’ and the ‘Sense of the House Resolution-2011’.

In his plea, Upadhyay, who is also a BJP spokesperson, has sought enactment of a Lokayukta Bill as a model legislation so that there is a strong Lokayukta in all the states of the country.

He has contented that Parliament, on August 27, 2011, had unanimously adopted the Sense of the House Resolution as per which it was agreed to put in place a Citizen Charter, to bring the lower bureaucracy under Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism, and to establish Lokayukta in the States.

“An effective impartial independent and strong Lokayukta in States is necessary to curb corruption and redressal of citizen’s grievances related to corruption in a time-bound manner,” he said in his petition.

He also said in his plea that a representation was sent by him to the government but no decision has been taken till date on that.

( Source – PTI )

AG seeks time in ACB case, matter posted to April 20

AG seeks time in ACB case, matter posted to April 20
AG seeks time in ACB case, matter posted to April 20

The State Advocate General Madhu R Naik today sought time for seeking certain instructions from Karnataka government in a case pertaining to operation of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Granting time to facilitate the Advocate General toseek instructions from the government, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherejee and Justice Ravi Malimath posted the matter for next hearing on April 20.

On April 7, the High Court had stayed theoperation of ACB, saying corruption cases being probedby the Lokayukta and pending sanction for prosecution should notbe transferred to the newly-formed investigation agency.

The division bench had passed the order on a petition filed by B G Chidananda Urs, a city-based advocate.

The bench had also said that any action initiated by ACB would be subject to the result of the PIL filed before the Court.

The petitioner had challenged thevalidity of creation of ACB.

He had contended that the government had issued a notification for creating ACB despite submitting before the court that it is taking measures to strengthen the Lokayukta.

( Source – PTI )

Lokayukta appointment:Delhi High Court seeks govt reply on BJP leader’s plea

Lokayukta appointment:Delhi High Court seeks govt reply on BJP leader's plea
Lokayukta appointment:Delhi High Court seeks govt reply on BJP leader’s plea

The Delhi High Court today asked the AAP government to respond to a plea alleging that they did not consult BJPleader Vijender Gupta on appointing the Lokayukta even though he was the Leader of Opposition in the Delhi assembly.

Justice V P Vaish also sought replies from the Centre and Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi on Gupta’s application that as per Delhi Lokayukta and UpLokayukta Act, 1995, the appointment procedure provides that the Leader of Opposition (LoP) has to be consulted.

While issuing notice to all concerned authorities, the court sought their replies within a week and listed the matter for hearing on September three.

Gupta has made the allegations in an application seeking intervention in the main petition filed by BJP leader Sat Prakash Rana for appointment to the vacant post of Lokayukta, the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Apart from seeking to intervene in the petition, he has also prayed for directions to Delhi government to withdraw its affidavit, comply with statutory provisions and start consultations with him.

He has alleged that Delhi government’s affidavit, claiming it has initiated the process of consultation by submitting its suggestion for filling up the post of Lokayukta to the Delhi High Court Chief Justice, was “false and misleading” as “no consultation process” has been initiated with him.

The counsel for Delhi government opposed Gupta’s plea, saying that the process has been initiated and the appointment will be made soon.

He further said “the Delhi High Court Chief Justice has sought certain clarifications on August 10, to which the Delhi government has replied back on August 14.”

The counsel sought dismissal of Gupta’s application, saying it has been filed in connivance with the main petitioner Rana.

Advocates Neeraj and Sushil Kumar Pandey, appearing for Gupta, alleged that the process that Delhi government has stated to have begun was “nothing but a delaying tactic”.

HC seeks reply from UP govt on PIL on Lokayukta

HC seeks reply from UP govt on PIL on Lokayukta
HC seeks reply from UP govt on PIL on Lokayukta

The Allahabad High Court today asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file its counter-affidavit on a PIL challenging the process of selection of a new Lokayukta for the state.

A division bench comprising justices Rakesh Tiwari and Mukhtar Ahmed directed the state’s Chief Standing Counsel to produce the affidavit before the court on the next date of hearing on August 11.
The order came a day after Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud recused himself from hearing the case as advocate Anoop Barnwal had challenged the selection process on the ground that the CJ was not being consulted in accordance with the Lokayukta Act.
Significantly, UP Governor Ram Naik yesterday returned the file sent to him by the Akhilesh Yadav government wherein he was apprised of a resolution passed by the cabinet recommending retired High Court judge Justice Ravindra Singh’s appointment to the post.

The Governor has asked the government to provide details of correspondence, if any, with the Leader of the Opposition in the UP Vidhan Sabha as well as the Chief Justice of the High Court.
As per Section 3 of the UP Lokayukta Act, appointment of an ombudsman for the state has to be made after due consultations with the Chief Justice as well as the Leader of the Opposition.

UP Lokayukta Act ammendment under SC scanner

The Supreme Court today agreed to decide the constitutional validity of the amendment to the UP Lokayukta Act which was allegedly done to grant an extension of two years to incumbent Lokayukta Justice (retd) N K Mehrotra.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and asked it to file its response on a petition challenging the amendment in the Act.

The court passed the order on a petition by Lucknow-based lawyer Mohd Saeed Siddiqui who contended that the Act was amended for the sole purpose of granting extension to the incumbent Lokayukta.

“There was no provision in the UP Lokayukta Act that empowered the state government to extend the Ombudsman’s term or reappointing the incumbent after the expiry of the six-year term,” the petitioner contended.

“The act provides that the term for which Lokayukta shall hold office would be six years. Sub Section 3 of Section 5 provides that on ceasing to hold the office, the Lokayukta or Up-Lokayukta shall be ineligible for further appointment, whether as a Lokayukta or Up-lokayukta or in any other capacity under the government of Uttar Pradesh.

“Justice Mehrotra completed his term of six years on March 15, 2012 and ceased to hold the office thereafter. Further, he incurred disqualification under the Act,” he submitted in his petition.

Mehrotra was appointed as UP lokayukta on March 16, 2006 and his tenure ended on March 15. But on March 22, the state government promulgated an ordinance whereby the Act was amended and the term of the Lokayukta was extended to eight years effective from March 15.

Following Uttar Pradesh Governor’s approval, the UP Lokayukta (amendment ordinance) 2012 was later on promulgated.

Karnataka High Court:Two day time given to appoint Lokayukta

The Karnataka High Court gave two days’ time to Advocate-General S. Vijay Shankar to get instructions from the government in appointment of Lokayukta and also pointed out that “the Government is violating the Karnataka Lokayukta Act”.

 Observing that the “public is getting restless” because of the failure to appoint the Lokayukta for the past 10 months, the Karnataka High Court on Monday told the Advocate-General that initiating the process of appointment was “a basic modicum of geniality” expected of the State government.

 A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Aravind Kumar also orally observed that the pending appeal filed by the State government in the Supreme Court challenging the guidelines for selection of the Lokayukta and Upalokayukta laid down by another Division Bench of the High Court was “irrelevant” for starting the process of appointment of the Lokayukta.

 The Bench gave two days’ time to Advocate-General S. Vijay Shankar to get instructions from the government in this regard while also pointing out that “the Government is violating the Karnataka Lokayukta Act”.

 The Bench was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by H.S. Neelakantappa on the delay in appointing the Lokayukta.

 When Mr. Shankar told the Bench that the State had challenged in the Supreme Court the guidelines that give primacy to the Chief Justice to suggest a name [for Lokayukta and Upalokayukta] instead of allowing all other constitutional functionaries an opportunity to suggest a name as per the procedure followed earlier, the Bench asked whether it meant that the name suggested by the Chief Justice would not be accepted.

 “You [State] are hiding behind the judgment of the High Court for not appointing the Lokayukta. You are using that as a screen. We see no reason not to start the process. The question of primacy arises when there is no consensus on the name suggested by the Chief Justice… Unless you have already decided that whatever name the Chief Justice puts up will be shot down… Are you expecting a conflict?” the Bench asked.

 Seeking clarification from the Advocate-General on statements made by the Chief Minister and the Law Minister on the issue of appointment, the Bench also said that “you are giving assurance but not appointing anyone. That is what the public also cannot appreciate. The public is getting restless on the issue.”

 Earlier when Mr. Shankar pointed out that State’s appeal would come up for hearing before the Supreme Court on August 6 and the Government would take action thereafter, the Bench asked him whether the Supreme Court would decide the appeal on that day.

 The Bench adjourned the hearing till Wednesday after Mr. Shankar sought a couple of days’ time to advise the Government.