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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Delhi Assembly Speaker, district judges get exemption from installing GPS, Lokayukta doesn’t

An October 26, 2018, order of the General Administration Department (GAD) states that district judges, judicial officers of all courts and the Assembly Secretariat are being exempted from the order.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
January 20, 2019 3:42:45 am
Delhi assembly speaker, Ram Niwas Goel, delhi, delhi news, exemption from gps installation, gps, delhi govt, indian express Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel (File photo)

The Delhi Assembly Speaker and district judges have been exempted from installing GPS devices in their vehicles, while a similar request by the Lokayukta, citing her “independence” and standing in the administrative hierarchy, has been turned down by the Delhi government.

An October 26, 2018, order of the General Administration Department (GAD) states that district judges, judicial officers of all courts and the Assembly Secretariat are being exempted from the order.

The AAP government had in August last year ordered installation of GPS-enabled tracking devices in all its vehicles and those belonging to civic bodies and autonomous institutions, to prevent their “misuse”.

Speaker Ram Niwas Goel told The Indian Express that there was no question of any double standard as the expenditure of the assembly comes from a separate fund, which is set aside by the Delhi government in its annual budget. In 2018-19, Rs 20 crore was set aside, Goel said.

From this corpus, salaries of MLAs (except that of ministers, chief whip and the Leader of Opposition), medical reimbursements of ex-MLAs and salaries of assembly staff are paid, apart from upkeep and maintenance of the House premises.

But in the Lokayukta’s case, like in the case of other departments, expenses are met by the GAD. Eventually, though, expenses are met by the public exchequer.

Defending the exemptions, Goel stressed on the need to preserve the assembly’s independence: “We cannot go by the state government’s orders. Yes, our expenses are also met by the government, which essentially means taxpayers, but we have a separate corpus. It is passed by the assembly every year. Moreover, if the government starts guiding us, it will affect the independence of the assembly.”

Under prevailing norms, the Speaker is entitled to 700 litres of petrol per month, apart from salary and other allowances.

Meanwhile, in its letter to the GAD, the Lokayukta’s office expressed “extreme displeasure” at not being granted an exemption. The Lokayukta has taken “umbrage” to the fact that district court judges, who are “subordinate” to the Lokayukta, have been granted exemption. The Lokayukta also pointed out that under Section 5(8) of the Delhi Lokayukta and Upalokayukta Act 1995, the post is on a par with a sitting judge of the High Court.

“To say the least, this not only undermines the sanctity of the august office being held by the Lokayukta but is also seen as an attempt to fetter the independent nature of functioning of Lokayukta… when the functioning of the Lokayukta is sought to be impeded by administrative orders issued and/or approved by the very departments and ministers over whom the Lokayukta exercises investigative jurisdiction,” the letter adds.

The Lokayukta has also decided to take up the matter with Lt Governor Anil Baijal, it states.

Goel has, meanwhile, also suggested that the Lokayukta’s decision to serve notices to AAP MLAs – on a complaint that they didn’t disclose their liabilities and assets – was linked to the denial of an exemption for her vehicle.

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