State Lokayukta ‘made’ to gasp for life, for whose interest?
Allegations galore that the Assam Government does not want to take any awareness campaign on the Lokayukta with the apprehension of ministers and top bureaucrats who have been mired corruption being exposed.
GUWAHATI, March 4: Assam too has a Lokayukta under the Assam Lukayukta and Upalukayuktas Act, 1985 (with amendments) and the Assam Lokayukta and Upalokaytuktas Rules, 1988. This is, indeed, an information for many in the State as the awareness campaign among the general public in the State on the Lokayukta is almost nil. The State Lokayukta that has its office at Shaktigarh at Bhangagarh in Guwahati has been gasping for life due to lack of infrastructure. And the reason behind the lack of awareness campaign on the Lokayukta is not far to seek. Allegations galore that the Assam Government does not want to take any awareness campaign on the Lokayukta with the apprehension of ministers and top bureaucrats who have been mired in corruption being exposed.
In 1989, the Assam Government had set up its Lokayukta office with a view to putting an end to corruption. The general public can lodge complaints against ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats in the Lokayukta. Though a section of ministers and top bureaucrats in the State has been mired in corruption, there is only one case against a minister in the Lokayukta since its inception. The case was against the then Teok MLA Renupama Rajkhowa in 1994, and it was related to a rented house. According to sources, the complainant did get justice in that case.
According to sources, since it inception, 972 cases were registered in the Lokayukta in the State, and most of the cases were related to contractors not getting their bills cleared on time despite completion of works, cases related to house rent and the like. Cases from general public, most of whom are ignorant of such a judicial institution to ensure justice to justice seekers, is almost nil, thanks to the State Government’s stepmotherly attitude to the Lokayukta.
What is even more surprising is that since January 21, 1995 the State Government has not been appointing any Lokayukta and has been getting the job “poorly” done with upalokayuktas. There has been no Lokayukta in Assam after the tenures of former Lokayuktas Justice Chandra Das (from February 1, 1989 to January 31, 1994) and Justice RK Manisana Singh (from February 10, 1994 to March 21, 1995). Allegations galore that the State Government is apprehensive of appointing Lokayuktas as a section of ministers and bureaucrats in the State are mired in corruption.
Lodging complaints in the Lokayukta is very simple. A person can lodge a complaint against ministers, MLAs, bureaucrats and others even in a plaint sheet accompanied by an affidavit. In States like Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and others, lokayuktas play an important role in fighting corruption. The Lokayukta in MP has its own police force and air wing. The Lokayukta even can take the help of higher State and Central government investigating agencies like the CID and the CBI.
As the procedure goes, if a complaint is lodged in the Lokayukta against a minister, the judicial institution sends the complaint to the Chief Minister. If the Chief Minister does not act on the complaint in a month, the Lokayukta sends the complaint to the Governor. In the event of the Governor not acting on the complaint, the Lokayukta sends the complaint to the Speaker who raises the complaint on the floor of the Assembly for a debate. If the complaint is against any government servant, the Lokayukta sends the complaint to the Chief Secretary.
According to sources, unlike the case in Assam, in Lokayuktas of other States, even government servants can lodge complaints. “A teacher of a school of Dhemaji has lodged a complaint on mid-day meal irregularities against the headmaster,” sources in the Lokayukta said.