Disgraceful tenure of a Lokayukta
Posted June 27, 2009on:
Two important developments took place in Madhya Pradesh last week. Lokayukta Ripusudan Dayal completed his six-year term on June 22. The same day the State’s Advocate-General Ravi Nandan Singh resigned with the avowed objective of exposing Ripusudan Dayal’s corruption during his period as the watchdog to check corruption in the State. In yet another but related incident a few days earlier, a writ petition was filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, at Jabalpur, seeking a CBI probe into corruption allegations against Dayal.
Ravi Nandan Singh’s anger against Dayal burgeons somewhat from a personal pique. Dayal had some time back entertained a complaint alleging fraudulent purchase of lands by Singh and his wife Sushila Singh (who is a BJP leader and the Mayor of Jabalpur Municipal Corporation). Singh stated at his press conference, called to announce his resignation, that Ripusudan Dayal was pressuring him to get his son included in the panel of lawyers for the Supreme Court which Singh said he was unable to do. Besides, he had differences with chief secretary Rakesh Sahni (who is also chairman of the State Electricity Board). Both of them, according to Singh manoeuvred to get a “false” complaint against him filed. He said that he had decided to resign on moral grounds in view of the complaint against him. He also showed to the media the documents claiming all his land/house transactions to be “fair”.
Singh urged the State government to institute an inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act “against Justice Dayal for misusing his position to procure court cases for his son from semi-government bodies like MP State Electricity Board (MPSEB) and the MP Housing Board”. At least 113 cases of the MPSEB and 48 cases of MP Housing Board were allotted to Dayal’s son to contest in courts.
Lokayukta Dayal had first come into the limelight when he picked up a quarrel with the State’s Chief Information Commissioner P.P.Tiwari. 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 Act (RTI) and Dayal ruled out the applicability of the Act to the Lokayukta Organisation. CIC Tiwari accused Dayal of trying to influence him in dismissing the applicant’s appeal and issued a contempt notice to the Lokayukta. The matter went to the High Court. 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.
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 where it is still pending.
Dayal’s real face was exposed when Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly 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, a Congress activist, moved the designated court more than a month later and got a direction to the Lokayukta police to investigate the matter. 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. Jamuna Devi’s complaint to the Lokayukta and Ramesh Sahu’s petition in the designated court append documents to show how Shivraj Singh Chauhan had, soon after becoming the chief minister, granted in flagrant violation of the law mining leases to the JP Associates (which has a cement factory in Rewa district), how the JP Associates had gifted four dumpers to Chauhan’s wife Sadhna Singh and (and hired those dumpers) and how the RTO office in Rewa had dubiously registered the dumpers in the name of Sadhna Singh, with her false address of residence.
The designated court’s direction to the Lokayukta police for registering a case in the “dumper scam” was issued on November 13, 2007. After demitting office on June 22, Dayal said that he could not complete investigation of the “dumper scam” because the government did not cooperate. The circumstances suggest that he had ignominiously compromised his integrity in respect of the “dumper scam” investigation as he had done in regard to the complaints of corruption against about a dozen other members of Chauhan’s council of ministers. (Dayal had, however, been completing inquiries into complaints of corruption against petty bureaucrats to claim a high number of disposal of cases during his tenure).
As this was going on, journalist-turned-activist Alok Singhai and lawyer Narendra Bhavsar moved in a Bhopal court a petition accusing Dayal 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. The duo had approached the court after various police agencies had refused to entertain their complaint. Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) D.K.Singh directed the Kohe-Fiza police (in Bhopal) to inquire into the complaint and register an FIR if a cognisable offence was made out. Dayal lost his temper and instructed one his subordinates in the Lokayukta Organisation to fire a letter to the Registrar-General of the Madhya Pradesh High Court with a view to narrating the “real state of affairs of the case”. The High Court received another letter “purported to be signed by R.Dayal but addressed to nobody”. Chief Justice A.K.Patnaik treated the two missives from the Lokayukta as the revision petition and called the records from the court of D.K.Singh and assigned the case for hearing to the single bench of Rakesh Saksena. Both the letters were taken on record by the High Court. Dayal had seen some nexus between D.K.Singh and the two complainants and wanted the Bhopal magistrate to be punished for his insolence. Justice Saksena dealt with all the points raised by the Lokayukta and found nothing irregular with the order passed by the Bhopal magistrate to direct the police to make an inquiry into the complaint against Dayal. This was a real snub for the retired Supreme Court judge and the former chief justice of the Sikkim High Court.
Meanwhile, Uma Bharati and her bete noire at that time Prahlad Patel submitted, separately of course, to the Governor bulky memoranda that included 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 senior officials accused of corruption. The memoranda also showed 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.
The 185-page petition moved by Alok Singhai and Narendra Bhavsar in the Madhya Pradesh High Court is replete with annexures obtained under the RTI from various government agencies in MP, Delhi, Orissa, Karnataka, Sikkim and other places. Seeking a CBI inquiry into Dayal’s “life-long misdeeds”, the petitioners show through the RTI-acquired documents how Dayal had been misusing his position for personal benefits not only as Lokayukta of Madhya Pradesh, but also as a junior judge in Delhi and then as the chief justice of the Sikkim High Court. Interesting is the four-page resolution adopted by the Orissa High Court Bar Association, at Cuttack, at its extraordinary general council body meeting held on February 1, 1983.
Excerpts: Mr R.Dayal, who was Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Delhi and who quashed the criminal proceedings against Mrs Indira Gandhi and released her unconditionally, has been recommended by Shri J.B.Patnaik, chief minister of Orissa, with the concurrence of the chief justice of the Orissa High Court, for appointment as a puisne judge of the Orissa High Court; Dayal was also appointed as chairman of the Textile Corporation after Indira Gandhi returned to power; he, being a junior member of the Delhi State Judicial Service, was not recommended by the chief justice of the Delhi High Court for elevation to the Bench and the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India declined to give concurrence to the said recommendation for such appointment.
Further: the members of the Bar Association are alarmed at this unprecedented situation, which has no parallel, ignoring the interest of the State and its people; this Association views with deep regret that Orissa High Court has always been found a convenient dumping ground for all and sundry; the members condemn the move to appoint Shri R.Dayal as a judge of the Orissa High Court and call upon the President of India, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of Orissa, the Union Minister of Law, the Chief Justice of Orissa and the chief minister of Orissa to desist from making such an appointment.
Dayal was not appointed a judge of the Orissa High Court following the strong protests from the Bar Association and a State-wide strike called by the Association, but was appointed a judge of the Sikkim High Court where, the petitioners say, he bungled to the tune of Rs 8.5 lakh.