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Supreme Court seeks Nagaland Lokayukta's response in State Government plea calling for cessation of his powers and functions

Lokayukta Justice Singh's unreasonable requests also included a demand for the presence of the Commissioner of Police at Dimapur airport at the time of his arrival and/or departure every time, the plea claims.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today issued notice in a petition filed by the state government seeking cessation of the Nagaland Lokayukta's powers and functions.

A three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice today after Advocate General for the State KN Balgopal made submissions on behalf of the state.

The petition by the State of Nagaland also prays for the Court to direct the Lokayukta to assign all the pending matters before him to the Upa-Lokayuktas. This is in addition to a prayer seeking an order to prohibit the Lokayukta from exercising his powers and functions as per the Nagaland Lokayukta Act of 2017.

The state government claims that since April 2019, the Lokayukta has fallen short of the standards that are expected from a person holding his position. Moreover, his unreasonable demands and "capricious behaviour" have made it untenable for him to continue in the post, it is averred.

Lokayukta Justice Uma Nath Singh, who is former Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court, also made a request to the Chief Secretary of the state government for relaxation of Section 4(2)(c) of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act in order to facilitate his engagement as an arbitrator in an arbitration matter. The provision makes it impermissible for the Lokayukta to hold any other office, the plea explains.

Elaborating on other "arbitrary demands" made by Singh, the petition states that not only did he seek permission to function online from Delhi, but he also made a request before the Chief Secretary of the state for accommodation, among other things.

He was personally informed that these requests could not be acceded to, considering that the same would require amendment to the statute. Subsequently, a communication dated June 6, 2019, purportedly sent from the office of the Chief Secretary, came to light, which claimed that the Chief Secretary approved of these demands, even though he did not have knowledge of the same.

The June 6 letter was later withdrawn owing to the Chief Secretary's lack of knowledge of the communication being made. It was also proposed that an inquiry be made into how the misleading letter was sent.

After this, the Lokayukta "started showing his ire", the petition says, by issuing notices to various honest officials.

Justice Singh's unreasonable requests also included a demand for the presence of the Commissioner of Police at Dimapur airport at the time of his arrival and/or departure every time, which is in clear deviation from the security protocol and the Y plus security detail accorded to the Lokayukta, the petition further states.

The Lokayukta also demanded for allotment of a former Chief Minister's residence-cum-bungalow to him, according to the plea. The petition further claims that Justice Singh had directed the Inspector General of Police at Dimapur to purchase two pairs of shoes and send them to his residence at Kohima. The IGP was told to take pictures of the shoes and send them by WhatsApp for the Lokayukta's approval.

These incidents, among others, prompted the state government to seek cessation on Justice Singh's exercise of his powers and functions.

The petition urges the Court to grant its prayers saying,

" is imperative that the prayers sought in the writ petition be granted by this Hon'ble Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32 read with Article 142 in order to protect the institutional autonomy and propriety of the office of Lokayukta which, in the constitutional and statutory scheme, is necessary to ensure the preservation of the legitimate rights and expectations under Article 14, inter alia, of the residents of Nagaland against arbitrary/unreasonable action of statutorily appointed office bearers."

Read Petition:

Nagaland vs Chairman, Lokayukta (Petition).pdf

Read Order:

Nagaland vs Chairman Lokayukta - 21.08.2020.pdf
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