Taking a strong exception to the pre-poll announcement made by chief minister Sheila Dikshit that “60,000 flats were ready to be handed over to the urban poor despite knowing well that they were not ready”, Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin recommended to the President to censure her.
The lokayukta recommended to the President to “administer a caution to the chief minister to be careful in publication of her messages in future”.
Slamming the chief minister for misrepresenting facts, the Lokayukta exhorted people should “stand up against unethical practices” and build up a strong public opinion to ensure that public functionaries adhere to “high standards of integrity and conduct.” “However, this change can’t come overnight and it will take time. Therefore, the least that ought to be done is to tell the truth about the misconduct of a public functionary and to publicly deprecate it,” he said.
The Lokayukta’s observation came in following investigation into a complaint filed by advocate Sunita Bhardwaj, a BJP worker in 2009, saying that Dikshit misused Rs. 3.5 crore received from the Central government under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission for Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojana to give out personal advertisements. The complainant later sought amendment in the complaint that the government cannot provide 60,000 flats as it had land available only for 9,436 flats.
While the Lokayukta agreed that in current political scenario it was not unusual for any party or the government to “roll out sops proximate to the ensuing elections” and may not fall foul of Representation of People’s Act, it does not provide protection from Section 2 (b) of the Act that stipulates adherence to norms of conduct and integrity expected of ‘public functionaries’.
Dikshit’s counsel, Mehmud Pracha said they were studying the Lokayukta order in detail and would soon take the legal recourse. “We would make a representation before the President. Some issues have not been addressed in the order.”