While there appears to be no immediate end to the stalemate over appointment of Lokayukta, for which the Supreme Court had set August 22 deadline, at least two crucial posts of chief investigation officer and secretary in the anti-corruption watchdog’s office are lying vacant for several months.
There seems to a virtual tug-of-war going between the state government and the Raj Bhavan over Lokayukta’s appointment with Governor Ram Naik returning the file recommending Justice (retd) Raveendra Singh’s name to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday for the third time in two weeks.
Incidentally, the post of chief investigation officer at UP Lokayukta Establishment has remained vacant since November last year and that of secretary since February this year, as the state government recently returned the names suggested by the Allahabad High Court, officials said.
The posts are filled by the judicial officers from Higher Judicial Services who are sent on deputation by the Allahabad High Court. “The government returned the names to the Chief Justice saying that a panel of names should be sent, instead of just two names, for appointment against the two posts,” said a source in Lokayukta’s office.
Contacted, incumbent Lokayukta N K Mehrotra said he has written to the government asking it to complete the process of deputation for judicial officers for their appointment on two vacant posts.
Mehrotra said the absence of secretary and chief investigation officer is adversely affecting the functioning of the anti-corruption watchdog with the inquiries taking longer than usual. “I have to clear all the files and look into every aspect of the inquiries,” he said.
The posts of secretary and chief investigation officer are the most important ones after those of Lokayukta and deputy Lokayukta. Section 14 of Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta Act, 1975, gives power to Lokayukta to appoint his staff. The state government officers are appointed as his staff on deputation with the consent of the government.
Meanwhile, the Governor again returned the file for the appointment of new Lokayukta to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav saying the government had not followed the due process while sending the name of Justice (retd) Ravindra Singh for appointment to the top post.
“After due examination, it came out that the government had still not followed the procedure set for selection of Lokayukta. Leader of Opposition Swami Prasada Maurya has admitted in a letter that there has been no joint meeting of the Chief Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of Allahabad High court for the purpose, nor has he been informed about any communication between the CM and Chief Justice in this matter,” the official spokesperson of Raj Bhavan said Thursday.
The Supreme Court had on July 23 asked the state government to suggest a name after which the Uttar Pradesh government had sent the file officially recommending Singh’s name to Raj Bhavan on August 5. The file has since gone back and forth thrice.
Raj Bhavan sources said the Chief Justice had written to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav saying that a panel of names for the Lokayukta’s post should be prepared before the meeting of three-member selection committee.