Not me but state's Lokayukta act is dummy, says Haryana's Lokayukta
Pawan Kumar Bansal
"I am not dummy but the Lokayukta Act is dummy which is not allowing me to work effectively. But despite this I am doing my duty to the best of my ability and given adequate powers I can prove worth of the office,"said Retd. Justice Pritampal, the Lokayukta of Haryana, in a no holds barred interview with this citizen journalist.
Pritampal regretted that since long he had been writing to the Govt. for empowering the institution of Lokayukta so that graft cases could be dealt sternly and effectively, but Govt. has not paid any attention to his repeated requests.
Describing corruption as cancer, he felt that ?It is built in ties that every citizen must strive for a corruption free society and must expose the corruption whenever it comes to his or her knowledge and try to remove corruption at all levels, more so at higher levels of management of the state.
Recalled that in a recent interview to a TV Chaneel, state's Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda had told that he had constituted a committee headed by the chief secretary for making recommendations to empower the Lokayukta.
Justice Pritampal said that he would soon submit his recommendations to the committee which may include suo motto powers of taking cognizance of graft complaints adding that fearing powerful persons, people do not come forward for complaining in their name. He further added that his office is getting a large number of complaints against officials of Haryana Urban Development Authority, Town and Country Planning Department, P.W.D, Irrigation and Electricity departments and misuse of Panchayat funds under fake names. Admitting that although a large number of them have substance but his hands are tied as he cannot take action on such complaints, hence the need of powers of taking suo motto cognizance.
Besides he will ask for protection and reward to whistleblowers and reduction of Rs One thousands fees for filling complaints to a token amount of Rs. Ten only.
Justice Pritampal who made into media headlines for his historical and landmark Judgement for recommending registration of criminal case against, Parliamentary Secretary, Ramkishan Fauji for allegedly demanding money to tune of crores of rupees for getting change of land use in a CD, lamented that his recommendations are not binding on the Govt.
He is of the opinion that recommendations of lokayukta should be final for launching criminal proceedings as is the provision in proposed Lokpal Act. Recently Justice Pritampal has personally investigated a complaint by thousands of residents Mayfield Gardens housing project at Gurgaon on the spot, alleging collusion of officials of Town and Country Planning Department and builders to deny the basic facilities to them as provided in the agreement.
Admitting that the first Lokpal Act of Haryana was very powerful, he said that Chief Minister should not have the final say in selection of Lokayukta. Justice Pritmapal who had almost completed three years of his tenure regretted that during the first year, Govt. has not appointed any Police Officer for investigations. Adding that frequent transfer of Police officers attached with the office is seriously affecting the investigations. In Haryana,' first Lokpal Act, there was provision of attachment of a DIG level Police Officer who could not be transferred abruptly without the consent of Lokayukta.
Justice Pritampal said that for participation of people in campaign against corruption, he had suggested to the Govt. that vigilance committees consisting of eminent citizens of proven integrity and character, on the pattern of Madhya Pradesh should be constituted at district level, but Govt. has not paid any attention.
Presently the Haryana Lokayukta is listening important cases including cases against chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda filed by Haryana cadre I.S officer, Sanjeev Chaturvedi, currently holding post of Chief Vigilance Officer at All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, for causing unnecessary harassment to him for exposing corruption and another filed by R.T.I. activist, P.P. Kapoor for misuse of public funds on advertisements making false claims.
Justice Pritampal had high regards for his predecessor, Justice I.P. Vashisth, the first Lokpal of Haryana, who according to him had done remarkable job during his short stint. In last he said that he was enjoying his work hoping for more powers so that he can work more effectively and give good result.