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Nagaland Lokayukta dismisses corrupt practices complaint against Deputy CM Patton

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By EMN Updated: Sep 19, 2020 9:22 pm
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Nagaland Lokayukta office in Kohima.

Dimapur, Sep. 19 (EMN): The Nagaland Lokayukta has rejected and dismissed the complaint against Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton, in which he was accused of indulging in corrupt practices and abuse of power by Vicca S Aye, a youth leader of the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP).

In an order issued on Saturday, the Nagaland Lokayukta, Justice Uma Nath Singh, ruled that the compliant was “devoid of substance in the absence of any prima facie evidence”.

“The complaint has been submitted in haste with deficient facts. The Lokayukta is not supposed to indulge in roving enquiry with a view to fish out materials and evidence to prove non-specific, bald and omnibus allegations made in the complaint. Thus, the complaint deserves to be rejected and is accordingly dismissed,” it read.

Among others, Patton was accused of stating on a public platform that he could manipulate the examination conducted by the Nagaland Public Service Commission; that there is a ‘give and take’ practice among politicians to offer government jobs; and indulging in ‘rampant favouritism’ in his role as the minister in-charge of Home department.

In his ruling, the Lokayukta observed that the complaint was filed in haste and the complainant had failed to produce any basic incriminating material, or a prima facie evidence to prove his allegations.

The case was filed on February 2, 2020.

According to the Lokayukta, the complainant’s request for a CBI enquiry was not granted as that would require the permission of the central government, which led the other alternative of letting the case be investigated by “someone of impeccable credentials and integrity”.

“Upon considering the totality of circumstances, it was decided to give the inquiry to the chief minister of the state,” it stated.

“In order to make the position further clear, the circumstances which led to assigning the preliminary inquiry to the chief minister of Nagaland can be enumerated as follows:  that the chief minister and the complainant belonged to one party namely the NDPP and the deputy chief minister is a senior member of the BJP, a prominent constituent of the Nagaland coalition government (ii) that it is alleged by the complainant that the deputy chief minister can influence and dictate the course of investigation (iii) that in the absence of Nagaland Lokayukta Rules, the conditions of service of the Nagaland Lokayukta Police are controlled by the department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms presently under the charge of the chief minister (iv) that as a police organisation, the Nagaland Lokayukta Police is not free from the influence of the state Home department, particularly in respect of policy matters connected with the state police which is under the control of the deputy chief minister who is also the home minister (v) that the Lokayukta police organisation is not being headed by an IPS officer, who like in other states, ought not to be below the rank of DGP and who can resist any external influence or pressure (vi) that the deputy chief minister in his affidavit has submitted that the complainant belongs to the Sumi tribe whereas he belongs to the Lotha tribe and they are from different electoral constituencies. The complaint seems to be espousing the case of political opponents of the deputy chief minister (vii) that presumably, the decision to assign the PE (preliminary enquiry) to the chief minister, the official superior of the deputy chief minister could satisfy the request of the complainant for inquiry/investigation by ‘Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or someone of impeccable credentials and integrity’ (viii) that it was expected that rising above the local petty politics, the chief minister should strike a balance and without being influenced by the either, provide a correct picture as to why his own party man has submitted the complaint against his senior most cabinet colleague in his coalition government  (ix) that the chief minister is one of the highest state constitutional functionaries, and presumably, his report should carry the credibility much higher than that of a police officer particularly in the peculiar circumstances of this case and that is also well within the scope of Section 11(2) of the  Lokayukta Act,” the order read.

However, it stated, the chief minister had “disappointingly” failed to assist the Lokayukta ‘for reasons best known to him’.

“The Nagaland Lokayukta organisation has been set up primarily with two objectives, namely to maintain transparency in the public administration and to follow the principle of natural justice. The institution of Lokayukta is not meant to implicate or placate any person. Let the people of the state not be misled and misguided by any unscrupulous opinion of their advisors with half baked knowledge,” it maintained.

The Lokayukta stated that by ignoring to conduct the preliminary inquiry with all the means at his command and all the records under his control, the chief minister has left a wrong impression that he keeps a veiled contempt for the rule of law.

Advocate general

Also, the Lokayukta recommended to the governor of Nagaland, RN Ravi, to “withdraw his pleasure extended for the appointment” of KN Balgopal, the advocate general (AG) of Nagaland, and “direct him to return all the files sent for legal opinion in respect of the affairs of the Nagaland Lokayukta organisation forthwith, and may also consider to divest him of the membership of all the committees connected with this organisation”.

According to him, under section 32 of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act, 2017, the state government has powers to frame rules connected with Nagaland Lokayukta organisation in consultation with the Lokayukta. “As usual the advocate general got the file for drafting the rules referred to him and has been sitting over it for the past over one and half years waiting for Lokayukta to leave the organisation so that the state government can create new posts and make illegal appointments through backdoor for extraneous consideration.

“In the absence of rules, the Lokayukta organisation was on the verge of close down, when the Lokayukta has to issue regulations to cover all the essential areas by over-stretching his regulation making powers under section 33 of the Act. The service conditions of erstwhile Nagaland Vigilance police and other staff which have merged into the Nagaland Lokayukta organisation under section 36 are very much uncertain in the absence of their service rules. So is the position regarding the investigation rules where as the advocate general only on the strength of his proximity to the chief minister has become the super chief minister and virtually driven the state anti-corruption ombudsman to a position of close down. It is a million-dollar question as to whom does the advocate general want to protect from inquiry or investigation of the Lokayukta,” it read.

He also maintained that the AG “should ordinarily be available in Nagaland and in case he has to go outside, he should give an intimation to the governor”.

“In comparison with other states, the volume of litigation of Nagaland in the Supreme Court is just the paltry which can be handled by its advocate on record. The advocate generals of other states rarely leave the states/headquarters,” it added.

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By EMN Updated: Sep 19, 2020 9:22:30 pm