Uttar Pradesh : A Controversial Lokayukta Mocking The Law

The tenure of N. K. Mehrotra, the Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh has been extended for two years by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, even after completing his tenure for six years as a Lokayukta. On the other hand, the Council of Ministers is willing to keep the Vigilance Commission out of the RTI Act and  is awaiting a response.  That is why Mr. Malhotra has himself sent a proposal to the Law Department of the government. The office of the Lokayukta is not providing any information to any individual under the RTI Act, 2005. In fact, this office is also ignoring the orders of the State Chief Information Commissioner. The State Information Commissioner has warned the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Lokayukta that if they are found disobeying the order then they would be charged with a monetary punishment under Section 20 of the RTI Act. The PIO responded by asking how could an individual seek personal information related to the Lokayukta, as the record that could be provided about the Commissioner is not even available in the office itself.
The question which arises is, how can an individual get the desired information related to the Vigilance Office ? Why is the Vigilance Office not providing any information under the RTI Act? On this issue, Mr. Singhal, the PIO has said that if an individual wants any information related to the Lokayukta then he could ask the Chief Justice of the High Court. The controversial Lokayukta is of the opinion that common people should not have any information related to his activities. In reality, the Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh, N. K. Mehrotra does not have the inclination for sharing information with anyone. This is the reason why he wants to keep the Lokayukta out of the RTI Act, 2005. He has in fact sent a proposal to the Law Department of the government to keep the Vigilance Commissioner out of the purview of the RTI Act, 2005. His efforts are to get his proposal sanctioned from the Council of Ministers.

 

High Court Notice On Increase In Tenure

The Allahabad High Court has issued a notice to N. K. Mehrotra, on the petition extending the tenure of the Lokayukta by the State Government which has challenged the constitutionality of the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Uplokayukta Amendment 2012.
The Court asked for answers from both N.K.Mehrotra and the State Government within three weeks. This order has come from the bench of Judge Sunil Ambwani and Judge A. N. Mittal on the petition filed by MLC Mukul Upadhyay. The tenure of the Lokayukta is 5 years. At present, after the completion of the tenure of the Lokayukta, the Government has brought an ordinance and increased his tenure by two more years. Later on a Bill was brought and an Amendment law was passed. This Bill was firstly passed by the Legislative Assembly and later when it was not passed in the Legislative Council, it was again passed by the Legislative Assembly. This way it is unconstitutional and invalidatory.
Advocate General S. P. Gupta has objected to the petition and said that it has already become a law under the Government order and in this case a petition is not considerable.

Till date, the Vigilance Office has not provided any information to applicants as per the RTI Act. The State Information Commission has even warned the PIO of the Vigilance Commissioner of a monetary punishment. Let us take the case of RTI activist Devendra Kumar Dixit. When he asked for information related to the Vigilance Office and personal information related to N.K.Mehrotra, and also asked for information about the movable and immovable assets under the possession of Mr. Mehrotra and his family members, the PIO. Arvind Kumar Singhal in his letter numbered 5248/201/2/5715 replied that it is not possible to give him the desired information. On receiving this unacceptable answer, he approached the State Information Commissioner to get the desired information which would help in finding out about corruption. The Chief Information Commissioner, Ranjit Singh Pankaj, has ordered making the information available before the next date set in regard to this issue.
When the issue of increasing the tenure of the Lokayukta by two years was presented before the State Legislative Council in the Lokayukta and the Uplokayukta Bill 2012,  members of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) protested strongly. This Bill could not be passed in the Legislative Council. Therefore it was presented in the form of a Finance Bill. An Amendment could not be brought on this issue. BSP minister Naseem Uddin Siddiqui and other members of the party made a recommendation that the tenure of the Lokayukta be 5 years instead of 8 years. Lokesh Prajapati of the BSP said that when the tenure for the President of the country is 5 years and the tenure for a member of the Rajya Sabha is 6 years, then making the tenure of a constitutional post more than this is not right. Naseem Uddin in fact stated that the tenure of the Lokayukta was illegal as the tenure had ended on 15 March and the ordinance for the service tenure was brought on  22 March, which meant that the post of the Lokayukta was vacant for 7 days in the State.
Along with an increase in the tenure of the office of the Lokayukta by 2 years, a fine of Rs. 50,000 would be imposed if any of the complaints put in front of the Lokayukta is found to be incorrect. Along with it the bail amount for the complainers has been increased from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000 in the Lokayukta and Uplokayukta Amendment Bill, which has been criticised by the Opposition. On behalf of the Government, Ambika Chaudhary said that the tenure for the Lokayukta has been increased in other states of the country as well. The recommendations made in the State Legislative Council were later rejected by the Legislative Assembly. Actually the new Government firstly tried to stretch the tenure period of N. K. Mehrotra. Later it was decided that the tenure of the Lokayukta would be increased from 6 years to 8 years. So, it is necessary that to make a change related to the Amendment Bill, it needs to be passed in both the Houses of the Legislative Assembly. And as it did not have the required majority, it was presented in the form of a Finance Bill. Later on it was passed in the Legislative Council.
There is no state in the country which has the tenure of a Lokayukta fixed at 8 years. It is worth mentioning that N.K.Mehrotra was appointed by the Government of the Samajwadi Party in 2006. Before this he was a judge in the Allahabad High Court. He started his career as a PCS (J) in the year 1970. In 1982, he passed the HJS Exam and became a Magistrate. In 1987, he was posted on deputation as  Additional Secretary under the Uttar Pradesh government. Before becoming a Judge of the High Court in 2002, he was posted in the Secretariat. After completing the fixed age limit of 62 years, he retired as the Judge of the High Court on 1 March 2002. During his tenure as a High Court Judge, in the Madhumita murder case he rejected the bail application of the accused Amarmani Tripathi nad this had hit the headlines at that point of time. Later on the Supreme Court changed his orders.

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