Views that never cease

Lawmakers as lawbreakers, lament of a helpless Lokayukta - Gobind Thukral

The BJP government in Haryana has been busy ordering probes and enquiries of all kinds. It wishes to establish the misdeeds of the previous Congress government that had ruled for ten long years.  Central agencies like CBI, state vigilance department and even a retired high court are all involved in these enquires whose number has crossed 200.

A legitimate question, a part of the argument in the corridors of power is the government serious at all to find the truth in these allegations which non- Congress parties have often leveled.   Now even a former minister in the Congress ministry for ten long years has leveled serious allegations against his own chief minister.  Indian National Lok Dal has been in the forefront although its two top leaders    are currently in jail. BJP which had just four legislators in the previous house too was not far behind.  It is now duty bound to prove those.

A leading newspaper has published an interview with Haryana Lokayukta retired  justice Pritam Pal  who has described his efforts during the  past five years as sheer waste of time and energy . Here is what he says   : “I have given five reports till date, including one to the present government in April. But it is unfortunate that those were not even once discussed in the assembly sessions in the past five years. I have been pressing time and again for empowering Lokayukta and given many suggestions to improve the system. Let alone ruling party MLAs, even the opposition MLAs have not taken any initiative.” He asks in sheer desperation, “What does this mean? “

Justice Pritam Pal has his own views on the functioning of the polity, corruption and why moral degradation is visible all around. He says, “Corrupt public servants are worse off than beggars. Because a beggar does not have anything but public servants have jobs, money and everything and despite that, a section of them indulges in corruption. Lawmakers themselves are lawbreakers. The majority of bureaucrats and politicians are not straightforward; they are not leading their life in accordance with our shashtra and dharma. Several lawmakers are sitting in Parliament facing serious criminal cases”.

Tracing the background and the constant nibbling with the first act, his narration runs like : “Lokayukta Act of 1997 of (former CM) Bansi Lal’s term was a perfect and ideal Lokayukta Act of Haryana. Rather, it was number one Act of the country. Then other governments came and it was repealed and important provisions of law not suiting the politicians were made weak. What kind of difficulties does a Lokayukta office face? In the past five years, more than 3,300 complaints were received and around 2,700 were disposed of. There is delay in disposal of complaints because of non-cooperation of public servants. We give 45 days’ notice to act but it takes years to get reports from officers. Instead of taking strong action against corrupt public servants on our recommendations, it is reduced to minor penalty. We also have vacant posts in the investigation department. Lokayukta does not have regular cadre of employees and on deputation, nobody is prepared to join this office. I don’t have a permanent private secretary, personal assistant and judgment writer. All are on contract.” What is left with the institution and why not scarp it and legalize all corruption is heard around all over.

Other recommendations that he has made include that since the directions of Lokayukta are recommendatory in nature, there is an urgent need to insert a provision of contempt of court in the Lokayukta Act, 2002, to ensure compliance. There was a provision of suo motu cognizance of allegations in the repealed Lokayukta Act of 1997 and it needs to be restored to encourage the common man to come forward. Also, whistleblowers need to be protected.

The present government despite its commitment written down in its 156 point long manifesto has not moved an inch even to look at these reports.  Also, what it has done to justice S N Dhingra Commission   that is probing into land deals by none other than Robert Vadra, son in law of the Congress president, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, is amazing.  Appointed in June   and mandated to present its report on December 8   this year, its term   had to be extended by six months.   The Commission has a skeleton staff of six people in Delhi and Gurgaon to probe not only land deals of Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality and the major real estate company, the DLF but also 200 other colonizers who are   alleged to have been favoured by the previous Congress government.

The issue had surfaced after IAS officer Ashok Khemka, then posted as Haryana Director General, Consolidation of Holdings, had cancelled the mutation of 3.5 acres of land owned by Vadra’s company in Sector 83, of which 2.7 acres was later sold to realty giant DLF.

The commission so far is learnt to have recorded the evidence of only a few of the 100 witnesses identified by the commission, who include Revenue and Town and Country Planning Department officials. Senior officials inclining Khemka, the whistle blower and others are yet to be summoned. Since the findings of the Dhingra Commission will have political ramifications, the BJP will design to time it for maximum political gains. What could be the  end result of other enquires is still in the realm of speculation?

 

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