Selected by the Supreme Court from a panel of five names, new Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta Justice (retd) Virendra Singh is currently chairperson of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. He tells Ramendra Singh that the office of the Lokayukta should not be politicised. Excerpts from the interview:
The selection committee could not reach a consensus. There was no consensus on your name too. How do you see your appointment by the Supreme Court?
My name was in the panel of five names sent by the government to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court exercised its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution… I am happy about my appointment by the Supreme Court.
There has been a lot of contention on the appointment of Lokayukta… disagreements among members of the selection committee, between the government and Governor.
I cannot comment on this. I had sent my bio-data to the government about one-and-a-half years ago for consideration. My name was among those discussed by the selection committee… The Supreme Court appointed me. What happened at the meeting is only known to the three members of the committee, I think nobody in the selection panel had any objection to my name.
There have been allegations that a particular caste is favoured in top appointments…
Caste is not a factor. It is not a factor in appointments. It is not a factor in work.
In the past few years, there have been allegations of the Lokayukta’s office favouring some party, especially when the complaints are against ministers or MLAs.
The office of the Lokayukta should not be politicised. There may be political pressure, but the person sitting on the chair has to take a decision. There may be pressure, but one must not yield to the pressure. As far as the complaints are concerned, I will deal with them as is required of me.
The findings and recommendations of the Lokayukta were rarely disclosed for many years. They were treated as confidential. But in the past few years, amid the debate over corruption, the Lokayukta’s recommendations have been open to the press. The government has excluded the office from the purview of the RTI Act.
When we have an enactment like the RTI Act, there is no point of maintaining confidentiality. The fact that the Lokayukta’s office is not under the RTI Act is another issue. There should be transparency in the functioning, and I will try to maintain that.
You have been a district judge, a high court judge… You are approaching 67. Are you ready to give another eight years as Lokayukta?
Of course, I am hale and hearty. I am ready for work. And there is no restriction on the age of the Lokayukta.
Former Lokayukta Justice (retd) N K Mehrotra suggested appointment of more than one Deputy Lokayuktas.
I will assess the situation after I take charge. How much work is pending and what needs to be done. I will then be able to say if more deputies are needed.
The UP Lokayukta does not have separate investigation or prosecution wings. Will you demand these?
Any provision which is present in any other state’s Lokayukta will be studied and assessed, and, if found useful for UP, we may get it included in UP Lokayukta.