JUSTICE (RETD) N K Mehrotra, who made way for Justice (retd) Sanjay Misra as the new Lokayukta on Sunday — just 44 days away from completing 10 years in office — said the post of the anti-corruption ombudsman has become “status-oriented” and was not “result-oriented” as it should be.
Mehrotra — a retired Allahabad High Court judge who was appointed as Lokayukta on March 16, 2006 — said “attraction for the post has increased in the last few years” when his probe reports led to action, including removal of ministers, and also highlighted the issue of corruption.
“Earlier, there was no such hue and cry over the appointment of Lokayukta. Now, everyone wants this position. People think it has a lot of power, but it doesn’t. It has become a status-oriented post, while it should be a result-oriented one,” he told The Indian Express.
After his nine-year and 10-month-long tenure — the most served by any Lokayukta — Mehrotra reiterated the need for reforms by making the institution a multi-member body, with separate prosecution and investigation wings and the power to take suo motu cognizance of instances of corruption.
He has written to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav regarding these demands in the last few years, but the government had not responded. Mehrotra said his recommendation that at least two lokayuktas should finalise a report in cases of complaints against ministers will strengthen the credibility of the probe reports and avoid the impression that the Lokayukta was acting out of “personal reasons”.
“Similar powers have been given to the lokayuktas in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka… It makes them strong… but the rest of the states do not want such institutions and there is no independent ombudsman in any other state,” he added.
Mehrotra regretted that most of his reports against former ministers and officials have not reached the “ultimate result” of prosecution in a court of law. “While my reports have instilled fear among the corrupt, the end result has not been achieved as most cases are still pending with the government. It should conclude these reports by conducting an investigation. Either prosecute those indicted or exonerate them if there is no evidence. Don’t keep them lingering. This also affects the dignity of the office of Lokayukta,” he said.
The state government has been sitting over a dozen such reports, including those recommending prosecution of senior BSP leaders like Nasimuddin Siddiqui, Ramvir Upadhyay and Ram Achal Rajbhar.
Asked how promptly action has been taken on his reports, Mehrotra refused to compare Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, three chief ministers he had sent his reports to. “All know who took action and who did not,” he added.
On how no SP ministers were indicted by him, Mehrotra said there was no concrete evidence against them. “No one can find enough evidence for indictment in the closure reports,” he added while claiming that his work had made the anti-corruption institution famous.
Besides about 400 complaints pending to be disposed by the office, the new Lokayukta will also have to oversee the appointment of the new deputy lokayukta, chief investigation officer (CIO) and secretary.
The eight-year term of incumbent Deputy Lokayukta Swatantra Singh had got over on September 30. But he continues to hold the post. According to law, he will continue to do so until the government appoints his successor. While the post of secretary has remained vacant since Ashok Kumar Saxena’s deputation ended on April 15 last year, the CIO post has not been filled since Prasoon Kumar Katiyar’s deputation ended in November, 2014. The secretary and CIO are appointed from among officers of higher judicial service.