Supreme Court seeks explanation from 11 states, Puducherry over appointment of Lokayuktas, asks them to reply in two weeks

The Supreme Court on Friday sought explanation from chief secretaries of 11 states in two weeks on why they have not appointed Lokayukta and Uplokayukta

PTI March 23, 2018 21:06:07 IST
Supreme Court seeks explanation from 11 states, Puducherry over appointment of Lokayuktas, asks them to reply in two weeks

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought explanation from chief secretaries of 11 states in two weeks on why they have not appointed Lokayukta and Uplokayukta, despite enactment of the law five years ago.

Supreme Court seeks explanation from 11 states Puducherry over appointment of Lokayuktas asks them to reply in two weeks

File image of the Supreme Court. PTI

The top court asked the chief secretaries to specify the reasons for not appointing the anti-corruption ombudsman in the respective states even after the law was enacted in 2013.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi also asked the chief secretary of Odisha to apprise the court on whether the office of the Lokayuka/Uplokayukta in the State is functional, saying the apex court has no information about the any such appointment.

It said that from the material brought on record, it appeared that Jammu and 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 bench said.

The apex court also asked the 11 states to specify the time period by which they would appoint a Lokayukta as mandated by the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

At the outset, the bench asked counsel Gopal Shankarnaryanan, appearing for petitioner advocate and Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, to apprise it about the states which have Lokayukta and which do not.

Shankarnaryanan said several states have appointed the ombudsmen but many have not made the appointments yet as mandated by the Act.

"We want the exact figure. This is not the answer we expect from a counsel in a case of such a magnitude," the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on 12 April.

The apex court was hearing a PIL which has also sought a direction to the states to provide adequate budgetary allocation and essential infrastructure for effective functioning of Lokayuktas. Section 63 of the 2013 Act states that every state shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta.

On 23 February, the Centre had told the apex court that the process for appointing the anti-graft ombudsman Lokpal was going on and a meeting of the selection committee, which includes the Prime Minister, will be held soon.

Attorney General KK Venugopal had said that steps for appointing the Lokpal have been taken and the selection panel, comprising the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of Lok Sabha and leader of the largest opposition party, would hold a meeting on 1 March to discuss the issue.

The court had said that the Act was an eminently workable piece of legislation and "does not create any bar to the enforcement of the provisions".

According to the PIL filed by Upadhyay, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, received presidential assent on 1 January, 2014 and came into force from 16 January, 2014 but the executive has not established a Lokpal yet.

According to the petitioner, many state governments are "deliberately weakening" the Lokayukta by not providing adequate infrastructure, sufficient budget and workforce.

"An autonomous Lokpal at Centre and an independent Lokayukta in all the states in spirit of the Act 2013 is necessary for redressal of the citizens' grievances related to corruption in time bound manner and a Citizen Charter in every department is necessary to ensure time-bound delivery of goods and services," Upadhaya plea said.

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