THE CONGRESS on Friday welcomed the Lokayukta decision to prosecute Minister of State for Water Resources Jugal Kishore Bagri stating that several more ministers of Shivraj Singh Chouhan ministry need to be prosecuted in the same way. But the former Speaker of State Assembly Srinivas Tiwari had given a clean chit to Bagri, who was then a BJP MLA, stating Bagri’s acts during appointment of Shikshakarmis at Satna did not amount to criminal offence.
And on this ground he turned the Lokayukta’s plea for permitting prosecution of Bagri. Tiwari, in his ruling on the application in September 1999, said that Bagri’s acts would have amounted to a criminal offence had he received any benefits in cash or kind.
Tiwari had based his ruling on the High Court’s decision in ‘R S Saxena Vs Madhya Pradesh State’ case in which Saxena was charged with appointing some daily wage employees despite a ban on recruitment.
The High Court judge in his verdict in the case had said, ‘Nothing has been brought to my notice there is an iota of evidence/ allegation that the accused obtained pecuniary advantage for himself or he caused pecuniary advantage to the employed labourers except that they earned wages paid to them.
Accused may be responsible for causing pecuniary loss to the State by wrongful exercise of his power without prior sanction. He and others maybe made to reimburse to the State, the wages paid to the labourers, as unauthorised expenditure of the Government money, but, he will, not be called a criminal..’.
Tiwari had equated Saxena’s act with Bagri and said the circumstances were similar under which the selection was not made as per the rules.
Such an act can be called only an irregularity in which there is want of evidence about Bagri receiving any valuable thing or monitory benefit, he had said.
But the landmark decision of Supreme Court on December 6, 2006, in former chief minister of Punjab Prakash Singh Badal’s case has changed the whole scenario, giving ample powers to institutions like Lokayukta to go ahead prosecuting public servants for their wrong doings without waiting for prosecution sanction from the Government or the Speaker as in Bagri or BJP MP Ganesh Singh’a case.