Before his six-year term as lokayukta of Madhya Pradesh expires on June 28, Justice PP Naolekar has cleared the names of all Shivraj Singh Chouhan government ministers against whom there were complaints of corruption.
In a first, Justice Naolekar has ‘expunged’ the names of the prime accused in the corruption cases and allowed the investigation to proceed.
Ajay Dubey, an RTI activist who is a complainant in one such case of corruption, said, “So far, there had never been a practice of the lokayukta ‘expunging’ names of the accused from the complaint. So far, we either had the case filed or lokayukta proceeding with action in a case but Justice Naolekar has started a new practice whereby he expunges names of the accused on his own and the case stays.”
Dubey is also running a campaign against the likely extension of Justice Naolekar's term by the Chouhan government.
In a startling revelation through RTI, it was disclosed that in the case 07/07/ 30.6.07 against officials and peoples' representatives for issuing NOC to M/s Jaypee Cement to set up a plant at Naubasta in Rewa district and Majhgawan in Sidhi district in exchange of favours, names of home minister Babulal Gaur, who had given the NOC in his capacity as the commercial tax and industries minister under the previous regime of the Chouhan government, and Laxmikant Sharma, the then mining minister, had been ‘expunged’ by an order of the lokayukta on April 5, 2014.
Similarly, the lokayukta office also disclosed that the names of IAS officer Nikunj Shrivastava and district chief executive officer BS Sharma, who were accused of misappropriating Rs 5.5 crore in the purchase of agricultural equipment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), were also 'expunged' on February 6, 2015.
In fact, in the MGNREGS’ Chhindwara case, the amount was earlier said to be Rs 13.5 crore and following a complaint to the Union government, a special audit was carried out by joint director, treasury & accounts, Jabalpur, who toned down the quantum of misappropriated funds to Rs 5.5 crore.
Ministers from the current and previous Chouhan cabinets who have got a clean chit from the lokayukta include chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Laxmikant Sharma, Babulal Gaur, Ajay Vishnoi, Jayant Mallaiyya, Chudhary Chandrabhan Singh, Kamal Patel, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Ramakant Tiwari and Archana Chitnis.
Former lokayukta, Justice Faizanuddin, when asked for his comments, said, “What could I say, but he is openly favouring the state government and that's why they (Chouhan government) are more than willing to extend his term.”
Reacting to criticism over expunging of names in the corruption cases, Justice Naolekar said, “Those who are raising objections to expunging of names should read the order first and then react.”
Extension against Constitution: Justice Faizanuddin
Retired Supreme Court judge and former lokayukta justice Faizanuddin said on Friday that the likely extension of term to lokayukta was against the scheme of the constitution and its spirit.
Talking to HT on the controversy over the likely extension to incumbent lokayukta justice PP Naolekar, he said, “Constitution has a scheme. Lok Sabha, state assemblies, president of India, vice-president, tribunals, commissions are all elected or appointed for a definite period of time, which can’t be extended. Extension to lokayukta would obviously be in violation to this scheme of the constitution and its spirit. Yes, you can bring in local law and do it, but if you ask the question, was it in keeping with the scheme and spirit of law, the answer would be an emphatic no.”
Referring to incumbent lokayukta, justice Faizanuddin said, “He is a retired Supreme Court judge, has been holding the prestigious post of lokayukta for six years. He should introspect, whether he should jeopardize the high dignity of his post for a small benefit. Public opinion on the issue is loud and clear. Yet, if he doesn’t want to ignore the public opinion, so be it. But, being a man who has held such high positions, he should at least introspect and then decide.”
He further said that the state government had made up its mind to give extension to the lokayukta and that’s why the MP Lokayukta Act was amended far ahead of justice Naolekar’s retirement. “I expect him to show grit and refuse the offer rather than starting open support of the government in lieu of extension of term.” “I belong to a different school. Such unsavoury controversies pain me greatly but what can I do?” he asked.