NOTED SOCIAL activist Usha Sharma, Vishnu Datt Mishra, Prabhuta Mishra, Babita Singh, and RTI activists, lawyers, enginners, professors, retired government officials and others, took part in the meeting. Urvashi Sharma, Coordinator of UPCPRI, chaired the meeting.
In its election manifesto, Samajwadi Party had promised to take steps to strengthen the office of the Lokayukta, but instead of making it more transparent, the government first increased the tenure of the Lokayukta to eight years, then it authorized the Lokayukta to penalize persons who level frivolous charges against any public servant. Now, with the cabinet approving a proposal to keep the Lokayukta outside the ambit of the RTI Act, the activists have every reason to doubt about further dilution and politicization of the Lokayukta organization.
“The UP government's decision to keep the office of Lokayukta outside the RTI Act was not at all needed as RTI Act itself provides protection to the provisions of the UP Lokayukta Act 1975. UP Lokayukta office was free not to provide information about the ongoing investigation under the Right to Information Act also. Section 8(1)(g) and 8(1)(h) of RTI act takes proper care of section 10 and section 15 of the Lokayukta Act. The section 10 of the UP Lokayukta Act states that Investigation to be conducted by the Lokayukta or his deputy should be conducted in private, and in particular, the identity of the complainant and of the public servant affected by the investigation should not be disclosed to the public or
the press whether before, during or after the investigation. The Section 15 of the Act states that any information or any evidence obtained by the Lokayukta office in the course of investigation should be confidential. keeping UP Lokayukta out of RTI ambit is one of the many attacks being launched against the transparency regime by the very system which the RTI Act seeks to reform,” added Vishnu Datt Mishra.
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