Free Press Journal

Would be better if Lokayukta is appointed quickly : High Court



New Delhi: Delhi High Court today said it would be “better” if the city government quickly appointed the Lokayukta, a post which has remained vacant since November 2013. “The quicker you (Delhi government) do it, the better it would be,” Justice Rajiv Shakdher suggested while issuing notice to the Centre, city government and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and seeking their replies on a plea for the immediate appointment of a Lokayukta.

“Hopefully, you will have some answers by next date,” the court said while listing the matter for hearing on July 24, after Delhi government counsel said he will seek instruction on why the post has not been filled up and when the appointment would be made. The counsel also said that appointment of Lokayukta would require the approval of the Centre as well. The court was hearing the plea filed by a former BJP MLA who has sought immediate appointment of Lokayukta. The BJP leader, in his plea, has said non-appointment was adding to the pendency of cases and, more importantly, has blocked the legal right of residents of the national capital.

Lawyer appearing for petitioner, Sat Prakash Rana, submitted in court that when the earlier Lokayukta – Justice Manmohan Sarin – demitted office, there were around 56 pending cases and since then over 500 cases have been filed. The plea has said the institution of Lokayukta was set up to inquire into the allegations against public functionaries but the post has been vacant for the last 18 months. Rana said in his plea has contended that though AAP government assumed charge in Delhi on February 14 it has “not yet taken any step for the appointment of the Lokayukta and Uplokayukta here”.

Observing that the office of the Lokayukta was currently a functional office where complaints and petitions are accepted on a daily basis, the petitioner said “public money is being spent on running the office of the Lokayukta, without there being any Lokayukta to justify the expenditure. “This amounts to a significant waste of public money, for which the Delhi government and the LG are squarely responsible.” It also said that in view of the importance of Lokayukta, the “inaction” by Arvind Kejriwal government and Lt Gov Najeeb Jung for 18 months was “astounding” and a “clear reflection of the lack of respect” they have for existing laws and democratic institutions.

Rana has alleged that the “office of the Lokayukta has been made a pawn in a political game” and the government “does not wish” to fill the vacancy. On September 26 last year, the Delhi High Court, while hearing another PIL on same issue, had asked the LG to initiate the process to fill the post of Lokayukta saying that statutory provisions make it mandatory on the part of the state to ensure that the post is filled up “without any delay”.