Lokayukta,L-G lock horns over action against ex-councillors

After Khanna rejects censure recommendation,Sarin uploads order,refuses to accept L-G stand,asks for reconsideration of the decision.

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published: March 6, 2013 1:24 am

After Khanna rejects censure recommendation,Sarin uploads order,refuses to accept L-G stand,asks for reconsideration of the decision.

Delhi Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin is engaged in a war of words with Lieutanent-Governor Tejendra Khanna who has refused to accept his recommendation to censure three former councillors. According to the Lokayukta,the councillors were “party to negotiations demanding illegal gratification for facilitating unauthorised construction” in 2011.

Khanna rejected the recommendations and held further proceedings in the case. Sarin said this was “not in accordance with provisions of the Delhi Lokayukta and Upalokayukta Act,1995” and he was “not accepting the decision of the L-G”.

In public interest,Sarin,who even sought legal opinion from a former Attorney General,has published on the Lokayukta website the matter of inquiries into the conduct of the three former councillors.

“Lokayukta conducted a comprehensive inquiry into the conduct of the councillors. He found that they had carried out or were party to negotiations demanding illegal gratification for facilitating unauthorised construction. Councillors were found to be in breach of norms of conduct and integrity also,” Justice Sarin wrote on March 1.

“The inquiry was conducted giving full opportunity to the councillor to have their say and lead evidence… Lokayukta,after hearing the parties,recommended ‘censure’… (as) their acts constituted offences under Section 7,8 and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Reasoned reports were submitted to the Lieutenant-Governor… (who) did not accept the recommendations… on grounds ranging from the councillors ceasing to hold office,having already suffered public disgrace or having spoken very little or not having demanded illegal gratification,having already expressed regret,etc.”

He points out that the L-G “purporting to act as per principles of natural justice after the receipt of the report,issued notice to the councillors,held further proceedings,heard councillors and recorded their submissions”.

“The Lokayukta verily believes that after a comprehensive inquiry in which public functionaries are heard and given the fullest opportunity,the statute neither provides for nor contemplates further hearing by the competent authority. The competent authority has a mandate to take a decision “on the basis of the report of the Lokayukta,together with all the material supplied”. The grant of further hearing is not in accordance with the provisions of the Delhi Lokayukta and Upalokayukta Act,1995. This position is fortified by a written opinion from the former Attorney General of India.”

Not satisfied with the non-acceptance of his recommendations,the Lokayukta submitted a special report in these cases,seeking reconsideration of the decision of the competent authority (Lt Governor in this case),pointing out that the legal position and excerpts from the recorded evidence “which had possibly escaped the attention of the competent authority”.

“…simply because the respondent has ceased to be a councillor,it does not imply that he has ceased to be part of public or political life or has become a person of no consequence…. A person who is denied a ticket today may be an aspirant for higher positions. Simply because someone has ceased to hold office is no ground to absolve him of punishment or penalty,” Sarin wrote.

When a comment was sought from the office of the Lt Governor,a senior official said he was not aware of developments in this case and would need to check.

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