The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in a plea seeking removal of the Nagaland Lokayukta for acts of impropriety.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun issued notice in the plea after Advocate General for the State KN Balgopal argued for the State Government.
The plea states that the Lokayukta had insisted on functioning online from Delhi by making a representation to the Chief Secretary in May 2019 stating that his house "is far away from the office", "the terrain is hilly", "that he has his library in Delhi" and for "security reasons".
A letter dated June 6, 2019 was engineered from the department permitting him to function from Delhi.
"Later when the Chief Secretary learned that one such letter was issued purportedly on his approval though he was not aware of the same, immediately thereafter a letter was issued to the Lokayukta stating that the earlier letter issued by the department did not have the approval of the Chief Secretary, and therefore, the same stands withdrawn and the Government intends to conduct an inquiry in the matter," said a statement by K.N. Balgopal, Advocate General, Nagaland.
Following this, the Lokayukta "started showing his ire" and notices were issued from his end to various honest officials.
The state government also states that the Lokayukta Justice Uma Nath Singh (Former Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court) made a request to the Chief Secretary of the state government for relaxation of Section 4(2)(c) of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act which bars the Lokayukta to hold any other office.
The relaxation was sought to the extend of insinuating his engagement in an arbitration matters, the plea avers.
He was personally informed that these requests could not be acceded to, considering that the same would require amendment to the statute. Subsequently, a communication dated June 6, 2019, purportedly sent from the office of the Chief Secretary, came to light, which claimed that the Chief Secretary approved of these demands, even though he did not have knowledge of the same.
The June 6 letter was later withdrawn owing to the Chief Secretary's lack of knowledge of the communication being made. It was also proposed that an inquiry be made into how the misleading letter was sent.
After this, the Lokayukta "started showing his ire", the petition says, by issuing notices to various honest officials.
The plea contends that the Lokayukta's demands included asking demand for presence of the Commissioner of Police at Dimapur airport at the time of his arrival and/or departure every time.
"He also insisted upon writing to the authorities for avoiding frisking at the airport which was also not allowed. At one stage, he even insisted on continuing on the arbitration cases which according to the Lokayukta Act he is not entitled to do so. In a complaint case he directed the Chief Minister to conduct an enquiry against the Deputy Chief Minister and to file a report in his court overlooking the fact that the Chief Minister is not an investigating authority. In yet another case he alleged that the law department is a danger to the Government because some officer of the law department in an internal note questioned his authority in interfering with service matters of an employee retired in 2009. The list is endless. The Supreme Court has issued notice returnable in two weeks' time" - the Plea states
It is therefore contended that this is in "clear deviation from the security protocol and the Y plus security detail accorded to the Lokayukta, the petition further states".
"...it is imperative that the prayers sought in the writ petition be granted by this Hon'ble Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32 read with Article 142 in order to protect the institutional autonomy and propriety of the office of Lokayukta which, in the constitutional and statutory scheme, is necessary to ensure the preservation of the legitimate rights and expectations under Article 14, inter alia, of the residents of Nagaland against arbitrary/unreasonable action of statutorily appointed office bearers."- Excerpt of plea
These incidents, among others, prompted the state government to seek cessation on Justice Singh's exercise of his powers and functions.
The notice thus issued is returnable within 2 weeks.
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