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Before he quit, Lokpal judge sent 3 letters to chief on lack of work, and gaps in processes

Justice Dilip B Bhosale complained about the lack of “any office/official work” and expressed reservations about the pace of work in the watchdog body.

Justice Dilip B Bhosale sent these letters in November-December last year. (File)

Weeks before he resigned from the nine-member Lokpal citing personal reasons, Justice Dilip B Bhosale, former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, sent as many as three letters to Lokpal Chairperson Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, complaining about the lack of “any office/official work” and expressing reservations about pace of work in the watchdog body, The Indian Express has learnt.

Sources said that Justice Bhosale sent these letters in November-December last year — he resigned on January 6.

He was one of the four judicial members of the Lokpal, the other three being Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty, former Chief Justice of Orissa High Court; Justice Abhilasha Kumari, former Chief Justice of Manipur High Court and Justice A K Tripathi, former Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court.

When contacted, Justice Bhosale declined to comment. The chairperson and members of Lokpal were appointed in March last year but with its rules still pending, as Justice Bhosale’s letters suggest.

Read | Explained: How Lokpal will form, function

Sources said in his first letter to Justice Ghose dated November 14, Justice Bhosale said that since there was no work, “let us utilise this time in laying down the ‘basic’ procedure (in black and white) including in respect of digitisation of the complaints, received and disposed of, along with orders passed therein, as suggested by me from time to time.” He also wrote that “intricacies of the procedure will gradually ‘evolve’ as and when we would actually start dealing with the complaints, maintainable before us, in accordance with the procedure.”

Section 59 of the Lokpal Act says that the Centre will make rules for the Lokpal. The nodal department, Department of Personnel and Training, has prepared draft rules which were sent to Ministry of Law but are still pending. Indeed, this issue, too, was red-flagged by Justice Bhosale in the same letter in November: “Let us also place on record in the form of resolution the decisions (major/policy) already taken (and communicated to us) including framing of the Rules which are pending consideration since last few months and sending official communication to the Government for expediting its approval.”

The letter also added: “We should request the Government, by way of a resolution, to provide competent officers on top priority basis for constituting an Inquiry and Prosecution Wings, without which we would not be able to function effectively even if the Rules are notified.”

As per latest data on the Lokpal website, 1065 complaints were received until September 30 last year of which “1000 have been heard and disposed of.” A senior official of the Lokpal told The Indian Express: “Most of these were minor and were not maintainable under Lokpal Act. Those which were have been kept on file. We will consider them once Rules are notified.”

Lokpal, as of today, has an office on rent at Hotel Ashok in Delhi and its permanent office has been finalised in Vasant Kunj where it will be moved over the next few days.

Also Read | The search for a Lokpal

In the letter, Justice Bhosale wrote that he requested “early action” on his letter and said he was writing “only with a view to keep the record straight. I would feel obliged if an official meeting of the Lokpal is convened to consider this letter or this may be considered whenever we hold a meeting.”

Justice Bhosale wrote another letter a week later, on November 21, urging the chairperson to constitute committees regarding administrative, infrastructure, expenditure, vigilance etc with two or more members in order to bring “transparency” in the functioning of Lokpal. He wrote, “This will help us to take appropriate decisions concerning each of these committees. This will further help to bring more transparency in our working and that every member would have a feel of involvement and also to know what is happening on administrative side.”

He also requested that both these letters be placed “for consideration in the official meeting of Lokpal at the earliest.”

Justice Bhosale wrote a third letter on December 11, less than a month before his resignation, which reflects his annoyance with what he said were inaccurate minutes of a meeting held on November 26. In his letter he wrote to Justice Ghose that “it was unanimously decided to constitute a Library committee and it was left to you, Sir, to constitute such a committee.” The minutes, however, said that “regarding purchase of books for library, it was unanimously decided that order for online purchase of Supreme Court cases…be given. Members and officers of Lokpal may give a list of books, other journals which they desire to be purchased for the library.” Bhosale requested Justice Ghose to “either correct the minutes or place it before the full House in the next meeting for discussion/consideration.”

The Indian Express sent a detailed questionnaire to Justice Ghosh on February 13, a reminder was sent Monday but he was unavailable for comment.

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