Maharashtra got a second Upa Lokayukta on Wednesday with the state government appointing former director general of police Dattatray Padsalgikar to the post. The appointment comes a week after Padsalgikar’s tenure as the DGP ended, bringing down the curtains to a 37-year-long career in police service.
Maharashtra, which was the first state to appoint the institution of the Lokayukta through the Maharashta Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta Act (1971), had been functioning with one Lokayukta and one Upa Lokayukta so far.
Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain said, “There is a provision in the 1971 Act, which allows the government to appoint more than one Upa Lokayukta.” Shailesh Kumar Sharma, a retired IAS officer, is already serving as the other Upa Lokayukta since December, 2015.
Jain said that the creation of the second post was felt necessary to speed up disposal of complaints and grievances lodged before the anti-corruption watchdog.
In 2017, when BJP and Shiv Sena were still bickering intensely against one another, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced a plan to appoint an independent Upa Lokayukta to probe corruption allegations pertaining to the Shiv Sena-controlled Mumbai municipality — the first occasion when his government had spelt out a need for a second Upa Lokayukta. At that time, the Sena had hit out at Fadnavis, with the party’s mouthpiece Saamna even demanding the setting up of an Upa Lokayukta for the BJP-controlled Nagpur municipality, and another one for Varsha, the CM’s official residence.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the two parties have buried their differences and forged a pre-poll alliance.
Fadnavis, when contacted, said: “His (Padsalgikar’s) appointment was done in consultation with the Lokayukta… His charge will be decided by the Lokayukta.” Justice (retd) M L Tahaliyani currently holds the Lokayukta’s position.
Padsalgikar’s name had earlier been doing the rounds for the vacant post of the chairman of the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC). While the MPSC chairman’s post can be occupied for three year, the Upa Lokayukta can be in office for five years. In February, activist Anna Hazare had sat on a hunger strike demanding strengthening of the Lokayukta, which had ended only after an assurance from Fadnavis that the government would do so.