Supreme Court today directed Chief Secretaries of States to file an affidavit within two weeks explaining the steps taken to appoint a Lokayukta and also specify the reason for the delay.
At the outset, a bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi asked to advocate Gopal Shankaranarayanan who appeared for petitioner Ashwini Upadhyaya, lawyer and Delhi BJP leader, which are the states which have appointed Lok Ayukta and which ones have not?
When he did not have a definite answer and said he at present had no information, Justice Gogoi read out from a note he prepared that Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir , Manipur, Meghalaya, Delhi, Mizoram, Nagaland ,Puducherry, Tamil Nadu , West Bengal, Telengana and Tripura had not appointed a Lok Ayukta or Uplokayukta..
The bench then directed Chief Secretaries of these states and UTs to file an affidavit in the court within 2 weeks as to what steps have been taken to make the appointment and also specify the reason for delay or non-appointment.
"It appears that the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh have not appointed any Lokpal, Lokayukta or Uplokayukta. The Chief Secretaries of the aforesaid 11 States shall inform the Court within two weeks as to whether steps have been taken for appointment of Lokyukta/Uplokayukta and if so the stage thereof. The reasons for non appointment of Lokayukta/Uplokayukta in the aforesaid States be also laid before the Court in the aforesaid affidavit(s) to be filed by the Chief Secretaries"
The Chief Secretary of the State of Orissa will also file an affidavit as to whether the office of the Lokayuka/Uplokayukta in the State is functional"
The bench was hearing a PIL seeking appointment of Lokpal and Lokayuktas at the Centre and in states as provided for in the central legislation passed in 2013.
The PIL also demanded a Right to Service -a Citizen Charter in every department to ensure time-bound delivery of goods and services contending that it was an integral part of Article 21.
It also seeks a direction to all the states to provide adequate budgetary allocation and essential infrastructure for effective functioning of Lokayuktas.
Upadhyay alleged that though the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, received Presidential assent on January 1, 2014, and came into force from January 16, 2014, the executive has not established the Lokpal.
“Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, envisages that every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the Act, however, many States have not done so till date. And many States have not passed the Lokayukta Act in consonance with the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013,” the plea said.
According to the petitioner, many state governments are deliberately weakening the Lokayukta by not providing adequate infrastructure, sufficient budget and workforce.
“Issue a writ or direction directing the Respondent 3 to 33, to establish an independent Lokayukta in the spirit of Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 expeditiously and provide adequate budget, infrastructure and manpower, essential for effective functioning of the Lokayukta,” the plea said.