Fratricidal wars in Madhya Pradesh, not just among politicians
Fratricidal wars in Madhya Pradesh, not just among politicians
Madhya Pradesh is presenting a strange spectacle these days, with almost everyone arraigned against everyone else. The ruling BJP and the opposition Congress are understandably hostile against each other. But that is the case even within both the BJP and the Congress, with leaders in both parties fighting fratricidal wars. The Lokayukta and the Chief Information Commissioner of the State are at loggerheads with each other while the Lokayukta and the Assembly Speaker are having their own separate bout.
Chief Information Commissioner P.P.Tiwari slammed Lokayukta Ripusudan Dayal for trying to influence his decision in a Right to Information case and said that Dayal's action amounted to a contempt of court for which he (Tiwari) might proceed against the former Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court.
Dayal's first reaction was to do a bit of loud thinking, in the presence of a selected group of media persons, about the Chief Information Commissioner. His take was that the CIC was playing into the hands of the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government, which was feeling threatened by the investigations undertaken by the Lokayukta organisation. Later, the Lokayukta served on Tiwari a notice for contempt of court, accusing the latter of forging his (Dayal's) signature on an order sheet which, the notice says, amounts to scandalising the institution of the Lokayukta.
Meanwhile, the Lokayukta has moved a petition in the Madhya Pradesh High Court against a government notification, issued at the instance of the State Information Commission, bringing the Lokayukta organisation under the purview of the Right to Information Act. Some applicants had sought, invoking the RTI, information about the antecedents of an investigation officer of the Lokayukta organisation as well as the TA/DA received by Dayal. Appeals against the refusal of the Information Officers (under the RTI Act) to part with the information sought were pending with the State Information Commission which seemed to be the bone of contention between the two constitutional authorities.
Assembly Speaker Ishwardas Rohani has issued notice of a breach of privilege of the Assembly to Lokayukta Dayal and five officials of the Lokayukta organisation. The Lokayukta had earlier taken up for investigation a two-year-old complaint alleging bungling in some construction works on the premises of the Assembly building and had issued notices to some functionaries of the Assembly secretariat.
Four MLAs, three of the BJP and one of the JD (U), submitted to the Speaker notices of a breach of privilege against Ripusudan Dayal and others on the plea that the Lokayukta had infringed upon the privilege of the House by starting an investigation into the construction works on the Assembly premises and issuing notices to the Assembly secretariat officials without taking prior permission from the Speaker. "It is an unforgivable crime that an agency, created by the Assembly, should start investigation of the works on the Assembly premises itself", says Lavkesh Singh, one of the three BJP MLAs in his notice.
Most of the Congress leaders had for long been associated with the cooperative sector which is now considered "corruption sector". Minister of Cooperatives Gopal Bhargava ordered inquiries against those (Congress leaders) who had allegedly misused cooperative societies for increasing their personal assets. Some of the inquiries have been completed. Bhargava is not, however, unduly interested in prosecuting the culprits and sending them to jail. He seems to be having in mind, another, more down-to-earth, use of these inquiry reports.
Bhargava was, for instance, involved in an unsavoury controversy for presiding over a function where "raee" dance was held.
Re: Fratricidal wars in Madhya Pradesh, not just among politicians
As Speaker, state CEC and Lokayukta clash, former CM appeals for peace A daily newsletter from the states
Milind Ghatwai Posted online: Friday, October 26, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST
A former Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh has come out of hibernation to broker peace between the heads of three statutory and constitutional bodies in the state “for the sake of a healthy democracy and to uphold the dignity of the Constitution”.
Former BJP CM Sunderlal Patwa’s appeal has come in the wake of a series of missives exchanged by Lokayukta Ripusudan Dayal, State Chief Election Commissioner P P Tiwari and Assembly Speaker Ishwardas Rohani. The three have been trading charges in public and have followed them up with notices. “People lose or repose faith in political parties or elected governments and it doesn’t matter so much because they are essentially temporary in nature. But people should not lose faith in the statutory bodies,” Patwa said in his appeal.
It all began with Tiwari initiating contempt proceedings against Dayal and accusing him of trying to influence his decision by visiting his home, a day before the ruling on a matter involving the Lokayukta’s office.
Tiwari went ahead and gave a ruling that led to the state Government amending the RTI Act and bringing the institution of the Lokayukta within its ambit. Dayal’s office had enjoyed exemption because of the transparency law in Madhya Pradesh, passed two years ago. Four other government bodies like the Economic Offences Wing and the Criminal Investigation Department were also brought under the RTI Act.
Dayal maintained that the state’s Chief Information Commissioner was not a court of law and, consequently, did not enjoy powers to initiate contempt proceedings. On his part, he challenged the ruling in the High Court and slapped a contempt notice on Tiwari.
While the two heads were engaged in a bitter battle, the Lokayukta’s office also registered an FIR against the Assembly officials for alleged irregularities in construction within the Assembly premises.
Acting on a complaint by four MLAs, the Speaker moved a breach of privilege notice against Dayal saying his permission was not taken before registration of the FIR.
Dayal, in his reply to the notice, maintained that he has neither named the Speaker in the FIR, nor were there any charges against them. Dayal said his office had initiated proceedings only against certain officials who were facing corruption charges.
It may be mentioned that Dayal had invoked the wrath of the state Government when he took cognisance of complaints against several government employees, bureaucrats and ministers. He said it was no longer mandatory for his organisation to take permission from the state Government to initiate action against those in service.
With the three institutions refusing to blink and even following up their notices with interviews to newspapers, the ruling BJP seems to have chosen a former Chief Minister to try and broker peace between the warring heads.
Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta Ripusudan Dayal is again in the news, for odious reasons this time. He is accused of having procured three posh houses built by a government agency: one jointly in his and his wife's name and one each in the names of his two sons. The officials concerned were said to have waived, while making allotments to the Dayal family, the rules applicable to the people in general. A Bhopal court has directed the Kohe-Fiza police (in Bhopal) to inquire into journalist-turned-activist Alok Singhai's complaint in this regard and register an FIR if a cognisable offence is made out. Dayal thus gets the dubious distinction of becoming the first Lokayukta of the State to face a police inquiry into corruption charges against him.
A retired judge of the Supreme Court, as well as former chief justice of the Sikkim High Court, Dayal had hit the headlines when he had picked up a row with the State's Chief Information Commissioner (CIC). The latter wanted the Lokayukta Organisation to part with the information, regarding a case investigated by the Lokayukta police, sought by an applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and Dayal ruled out the applicability of the Act to the Lokayukta Organisation. CIC P.P.Tiwari had accused Dayal of trying to influence him in dismissing the applicant's appeal and issued a contempt notice to the Lokayukta. The matter is pending in the High Court.
Then Dayal had a problem with the Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, Ishwardas Rohani, who had issued to the Lokayukta and some officials in the Organisation a notice of breach of privilege for starting investigation of the alleged financial irregularities in the construction works on the Assembly premises and serving summons on some officials of the Assembly secretariat. The matter was taken by the Lokayukta to the Supreme Court which is yet to decide it.
Dayal had publicly attributed motives to CIC Tiwari and insinuated that he was playing the BJP game in order to derail the investigation of the corruption charges against several ministers pending before the Lokayukta. He made similar observations when Assembly Speaker Rohani sent him the notice for a breach of privilege. He again called a group of reporters to his residence to deny the allegations made in Singhai's complaint to the police --- and later by Bharatiya Jana Shakti (BJS) Party leader Uma Bharati and her ardent supporter-turned-bete noire Prahlad Patel. Dayal refused to come clean on the transactions made in the bank account of his Meerut-based friend Satyaprakash Agrawal, saying that it was his "personal matter". He, however, reiterated his charge that some powerful people were definitely behind the "conspiracy to weaken the institution of Lokayukta", though he would not say who.
Both Uma Bharati and Prahlad Patel have submitted, separately, of course, to the Governor bulky memoranda that include Dayal's bank account transactions in Bhopal, Delhi and Meerut, as well as the style of Dayal's disposal of cases in order to help the officials accused of corruption. Patel has, for instance, cited a case in which then Commercial Taxes Commissioner Vishwapati Trivedi was accused of helping an Indore firm which had allegedly indulged in various irregularities, including non-payment of taxes, and deprived the State exchequer of huge amounts of money.
The case was closed by the Lokayukta after the Law Officer of the Lokayukta Organisation had recorded on the file: "the files sought from the department have not been made available. The files made available by the department are not relevant to the case".
The memoranda submitted to the Governor also show that Dayal had got his son Ashish Kumar Dayal appointed "Advocate on Record" in the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (MPSEB) through secretary, energy department, Sanjay Bandopadhyaya whom the Lokayukta had taken off the hook in corruption cases (No. 15/99 and 16/99) by closing the case in 2005 after it was recorded on the file that prosecution should be launched. The memoranda also show the transactions amounting to crores of rupees in Dayal's several bank accounts.
Dayal had found a lot of sympathisers during his spat with the Speaker --- and also with the CIC. But he finds himself virtually isolated while putting up defence on corruption allegations against him. The only person to lend "moral support" to Dayal in this hour of crisis is Leader of the Opposition Jamuna Devi who says in a statement that if the officials of the Madhya Pradesh Housing Board (MPHB), a government agency, flouted the rules apparently at the behest of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan for allotting a house to Dayal, how can the Lokayukta be held responsible for that? What a nice way of making a former Supreme Court judge look like an innocent victim of officials' misdeeds!
The allegations of acquiring a few posh houses by bending the rules would not have probably agitated the people much, had Dayal had anything worthwhile to show to the people. He completed four years as Lokayukta this month and has not been able to launch prosecution against a single influential swindler of the public money so far. Even in the case of small fries accused of corruption, Dayal has a dismal record. He is sitting over the complaints against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and over a dozen of his cabinet colleagues.
Dayal's not-so-honourable intentions were exposed when Leader of the Opposition Jamuna Devi submitted to him the complaint of what has come to be known as "dumper scam" against the chief minister and his wife Sadhna Singh. The Lokayukta did not even take cognisance of it till Ramesh Sahu, Congress activist, moved the special court more than a month later and got a direction to the Lokayukta police to investigate the matter and submit a report to the court within a month. That was on November 13 last year. Dayal's dissimulation was further revealed when the FIR was registered by the Lokayukta police in the name of a deputy superintendent of police and not on behalf of Ramesh Sahu who was the complainant, for the simple reason that making Sahu the complainant in the FIR would have given him the legal right to be associated with the progress of investigation. And there is hardly any progress till now.