Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 27
As action taken reports (ATRs) in 64 cases have not been submitted, Haryana Lokayukta Justice Nawal Kishore Agarwal (retd) has expressed concern over the government not amending the Haryana Lokayukta Act 2002 to make it strong and effective.
Amendment of Act sought
- Calling amendment in the Haryana Lokayukta Act 2002, Haryana Lokayukta Justice Nawal Kishore Agarwal (retd)has been demanding suo motu power, setting up of an inquiry wing for conducting preliminary inquiries and also prosecution wing for trying indicted officials in special courts.
- He has been seeking power to punish for contempt, attachment of assets and power to transfer or suspend public servants connected with corruption allegations
“…it is a matter of great concern that till now no steps have been taken to amend the Act so as to strengthen the institution of Lokayukta and the suggestions shared with the government from time to time have not been implemented in letter and spirit and position is still the same,” he said, in the Annual Report for 2019-20.
The report was submitted before the Vidhan Sabha during the Budget session.
The Lokayukta investigates cases of corruption, where substantiated, and recommends action. The “competent authority” which is Chief Minister, is required to send an ATR on the recommendation within three months.
Calling amendment in the Act, Justice Agarwal has been demanding suo motu power, setting up of an inquiry wing for conducting preliminary inquiries and also prosecution wing for trying indicted officials in special courts. He has been seeking power to punish for contempt, attachment of assets and power to transfer or suspend public servants connected with corruption allegations.
He has also been demanding that if no action is taken on his report against an official for four months, he should have the power to direct the Director Prosecution for his trial in a special court, for which prosecution sanction should be considered deemed to have been granted.
In 2019-20, the Lokayukta had disposed of 571 cases, in which action was recommended in 20 cases against erring officials and ATRs were received. However, in 64 cases, where the recommendations were against top-level officials in some cases, the ATRs have been pending. In one of the cases, which involved alleged nexus between private colonisers and the Town and Country Planning Department, the Lokayukta held all Director Generals, Town and Country Planning, who remained posted since 1992 till date (17 IAS officers), “responsible and guilty of actionable negligence, inaction and maladministration” and recommended for an SIT against officials responsible for licences issued in violation of rules.
He called for inquiry against all Ambala Municipal Commissioners from 2012 till date, which included 11 IAS and seven HCS officers, in a case of unauthorised construction.
In another case, retired IAS officer Avtar Singh was indicted who, as Chief Administrator, Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board (HSAMB), allotted a plot despite a high court order that had termed the firm “ineligible”.
In a case of 2016 where encroachment of 15 plots in Panipat was discussed, the Lokayukta indicted then Estate Officers of Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) – Vikas Dhanda, and Deepak Ghanghas – then DC Panipat Samir Pal Srow, then Administrator HSVP, Rohtak, and then Chief Administrator, HSVP, and called for inquiry against them. He concluded that Bollywood actress Soha Ali Khan got her arms licence in 1996 “in connivance with public servants” despite being ineligible. The files went missing in the case. But no action has been taken.