Lokayukta demands more teeth to probe graft cases
New Delhi: Amid Delhi government's plan
to review powers of the Lokayukta, the anti-corruption
watchdog has demanded more teeth to probe graft cases against
public functionaries and asked Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit
to view the institution as an "aid" for probity in governance
rather than an obstacle.
Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin said the watchdog
should be given powers of "search and seizure" and conduct
probe against bureaucrats besides granting financial and
administrative autonomy for its effective functioning.
Unhappy over the Lokayukta's order in February
recommending removal of PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan in a
tax evasion case, Dikshit had said the government was planning
to review the powers of the anti-corruption watchdog to make
it "more transparent" and "just".
In the first such case, Sarin had recommended to
President Pratibha Patil to sack Chauhan from Delhi Cabinet
for trying to protect a leading resort in a tax evasion case.
The order had put the city government on a tight spot.
"The chief minister should view this institution as
one which can be used to help her to make the government
conform to ethics and probity rather than look the other way.
A good political executive will always find the Lokayukta an
ally," Sarin said in an interview.
Asked about Dikshit planning to re-examine powers of
the Lokayukta, Sarin said the institution should be perceived
as supplementing and aiding good governance and brining about
probity in administration.
"Why the chief minister feels or thinks that power and
jurisdiction need to be curtailed, it is for her to comment or
explain why she feels so. I look at the situation in a
different perspective. I do not find any conflict in the roles
of the Lokayukta and the Chief Minister or the powers to be,"
Seeking enhancement in powers including search and
seizure, Sarin said in states like Madhya Pradesh and
Karnataka, Lokayuktas have separate investigating wings with
team of police officials headed by a DGP.
"In the Delhi Act, there is no power for search and
seizure. Suppose you are investigating a case of
disproportionate asset, you at times need to act quickly to
ensure that the evidence is not taken away," he said.
The Lokayukta currently hires private investigator or
other agencies to carry out investigation as it does not have
any investigating wing.
"We do not have a separate investigative wing unlike
in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. There, they have DGPs posted
with Lokayukta and Lokayukta has his own prosecuting agency.
They investigate. It is a full fledge arm of investigation.
Here we are handicapped in that," he said.