Lokayukta must be given the power to initiate action: Amareshawar Sahay3 min read
The post of Lokayukta created to curb corruption at the state-level is faced with a host of problems. From not having enough powers to want of a proper investigative agency to work for it, Lokayukta is yet to become force to reckon with. Making matters worse, a newfound political outfit has alleged that Lokayuta Amareshawar Sahay has not been discharging his duties and demanded his resignation. In a candid conversation with TOI’s Kelly Kislaya, Sahay talks about problems surrounding the post and the controversy surrounding him.
More and more people are coming to the Lokayukta office with their grievances. In the past one year, how many cases have come and how many were disposed?
In 2013, we received 661 cases, of which 532 were disposed. This year till May, we received 287 complains of which 176 were disposed.
You have been demanding a new Lokayuta act for the state. Has there been any progress on that front ?
Nothing has been done yet despite repeated pleas to the government. When the post was created in the state, the Lokayukta Act of Bihar was adopted. While Bihar changed the whole Lokayukta Act in 2013, we are still following the old one.
What new points should be included if a new act were to come into force ?
Lokayukta must be given the power to take appropriate action in any case. At present, all that a Lokayukta can do is direct or recommend the government to take action if an allegation is proved in a particular case.
There has also been a demand for a separate investigation wing for the Lokayukta office. Has the government done anything about it ?
The demand for providing an investigation wing for Lokayukta has been pending since the time the post was created in 2005. In 2011, I had written to the government regarding the same and we have been in constant touch through letters. A PIL was filed by a complainant at our office, Patric Sada, demanding more powers for Lokayukta in 2012. Following this, the court ordered the government to look into the matter and directed us to send a reminder to the government on March 7.
So did you send the letter? What was the government’s reply, if any ?
We wrote to the government on March 18 demanding the formation of an investigative wing having a DSP, police officers, engineers and other officials but the government rejected it. We received a letter on July 15, which said we could not have an investigative wing as it is not mentioned in the Lokayukta Act of the state. It is in the hands of the government to amend the act.
A new political outfit has alleged that you are not using your power against ministers and bureaucrats and claims that you should take suo moto action against corrupt ministers on the basis of newspaper reports.
Taking suo moto action based on news reports is not always possible. In the past, there have been cases in which suo moto action was taken, but on further investigation the report was found to be misleading. Instead of character assassination, the group members should be supportive. If they have proof of any corrupt activity or ooficial, they should come to me so that I can take some action. If they go on alleging that Lokayukta is defunct, people will lose faith in us and stop coming with their complains.