HC to decide Lokayukta-govt dispute on low-floor bus purchase

The Delhi High Court will finally pass its verdict on the ongoing legal tussle regarding whether the Delhi Lokayukta is acting within its jurisdiction while calling for the state government to produce tender records of the 625 low-floor buses purchased.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: February 12, 2009 12:29:34 am

The Delhi High Court will finally pass its verdict on the ongoing legal tussle regarding whether the Delhi Lokayukta is acting within its jurisdiction while calling for the state government to produce tender records of the 625 low-floor buses purchased.

On Wednesday,Justice S Ravindra Bhat reserved final orders on the wrangle between the Delhi Government and the Lokayukta,a recommendatory body to probe corruption among public functionaries. The court had earlier stayed a direction from Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin to the government to produce the tender records on the purchase of the non-AC,low-floor CNG buses.

The dispute was sparked off by a complaint filed by BJP MLA Vijay Jolly last year alleging corruption on the part of the government while purchasing the buses “at an inflated price of over Rs 25 lakh per bus over the price paid by the Metropolitan Transport Corporation,Chennai”.

The Lokayukta,represented by Additional Solicitor General Parag Tripathi,challenged the court’s stay on the ground that the documents had been sought merely to conduct an impartial inquiry into Jolly’s complaint.

“Is there a statutory bar on the Lokayukta examining the documents? He (Justice Sarin) wants to make up his mind whether the complaint holds merit,” Tripathi argued.

Appearing for the government,Solicitor General G E Vahanvati countered that it was an “astounding argument” that official documents could be summoned merely for deciding if an inquiry into the purchase should be conducted at all.

Justice Bhat said,“You have to issue a formal notice and give reasons for doing so… you cannot issue a notice to check whether you should take cognizance or not,” the judge said.

The Lokayukta has maintained throughout the dispute that the law provides it the power to decide for itself the procedure to conduct an inquiry into an allegation of corruption brought before it.

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