Court snub to MP Lokayukta
Posted July 12, 2010on:
Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar deserves sympathy of all his well wishers. When the designated court of Indore directed the Lokayukta to inquire into a land scam complaint against senior minister Kailash Vijayvargiya and BJP MLA Ramesh Mendola and file a report within 90 days, the Lokayukta was confident of completing the investigation within the stipulated period and had, accordingly, directed the police wing of the Lokayukta Organisation to go ahead. Little did he realise then that he would not be able to complete the task because the departments would not cooperate with his Organisation and would not supply the required documents in spite of his repeated reminders.
This rebuff by the departments appears to have made Naolekar, a former Supreme Court judge, so much depressed that he forgot to look up the Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta Act which (Section 11) makes the provisions of the Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) applicable in Lokayukta inquiries for (a) “summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and his examination on oath; (b) requiring the discovery and production of documents and proof thereof; (c) receiving evidence on affidavits; (d) requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office”, among other things.
As if a rebuff from the government departments was not enough, the Lokayukta had, through his officials, to receive a reprimand from Indore designated judge S.K.Raghuvanshi also. When Virendra Singh, Superintendent of Police (SP) in the Lokayukta Organisation, moved an application seeking another 120 days’ time to complete the inquiry and pleaded that the department of urban administration and development was not supplying the relevant documents in spite of several reminders having been sent to it, the judge shot back: “who do you want to save? You have the powers to seize the documents. The law is there, if the documents are missing”.
The complaint against Vijayvargiya and Mendola is that they had conspired with Vijay Kothari and Ramesh Sanghvi, partners in the Dhanlaxmi Chemical Industries, to grab the land, measuring three acres, situated next to Sugnidevi College at Pardeshipura,. The government had leased this chunk of the land out of the eight-acre land of the Sugnidevi College campus to Dhanlaxmi Chemical Industries in 1980 on a 30-year lease at an annual lease rent of Rs 2400. The Indore Municipal Corporation, with Kailash Vijayvargiya as its Mayor, permitted sale of this land to Nanda Nagar Griha Nirman Sakh Sanstha, which was headed by Ramesh Mendola, in 2004. Mendola had struck a deal with Vijay Kothari and Manish Sanghvi for the sale of this land for Rs 1.38 crore long before the Municipal Corporation had granted its permission for the sale, according to the petition before the Indore court. The sale deed shows that the land was to be used for educational, health and residential activities.
Veteran Congress leader Suresh Seth claims in his 220-page petition that the land, worth around Rs 100 crore, in the Pardeshipura locality of Indore was fraudulently allotted to Ramesh Mendola, a trusted lieutenant of Kailash Vijayvargiya, who was the Mayor of Indore Municipal Corporation when the land allotment was made. Vijayvargiya, a strong contender for the post of chief minister, now holds the portfolios of industries, commerce, employment, information technology, science and technology and rural industry.
Seth, a former minister, is pursuing the case vigorously. When the Lokayukta SP told the designated court that the department of urban administration and development was not making the relevant documents available, Seth almost lost his temper and said that he had annexed to his petition the certified copies of all the relevant documents and the Lokayukta could peruse them. The judge also asked the Lokayukta SP what more they wanted as all the documents were on the records.
“It’s a blot on the Lokayukta”, Seth said. He vehemently opposed the Lokayukta’s request to grant more time for completing the inquiry and said that a period of 90 days was enough. He further embarrassed the already embarrassed SP by offering to withdraw the petition if he (the SP) submitted in writing that the State government was not abiding by the directions of the Lokayukta. Seth also alleged in the court that home minister Uma Shankar Gupta had called upon the Lokayukta to urge him to save Vijayvargiya.
Incidentally, the Lokayukta outfit in Indore had, reportedly under instructions of the Lokayukta, tried hard, through usual police tactics, to discourage Suresh Seth from pursuing the complaint against Vijayvargiya. The Indore office of the Lokayukta Organisation would ask Seth to present himself at noon on an atrociously hot April day for the recording of his statement; when the octogenarian leader reached there carrying the bundle of documents, he would be told that the SP was away and no one knew when he would be back and no one else was in a position to record his statement.
After reprimanding the Lokayukta Organisation in severe terms for its attitude towards corruption in high places, the Indore judge allowed a month’s time more to the Lokayukta to complete the investigation.