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Posts Tagged ‘Ravi Nandan Singh

Justice Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar, the new Lokayukta of Madhya Pradesh, has held out the assurance that he will make the Lokayukta Organisation a true guardian of public interest and dispose of the complaints strictly on merit, without pride and prejudice and without succumbing to pressure. In fact, he has said it in too many words during his interaction with the media after being sworn-in in Bhopal’s Raj Bhavan.

Samples: he has never in his life worked under anybody’s pressure; he will perform his duties with honesty in future also; he is not bothered with anyone’s likes or dislikes; he will go strictly by the evidence; there will be no delay (in disposal of cases) on his part; the cases will be disposed of as soon as the evidence is produced; he will not allow the platform of the Lokayukta Organisation to be misused by any one; every one is equal before him, whether he is a minister or any ordinary person; and lastly, his priority is expeditious disposal of the pending cases.

Having said all this, Naolekar went to the Lokayukta office and promptly took up a case for expeditious disposal. It was not a case that had been “pending” for long or had been agitating the public mind because of the dubious role played by Naolekar’s predecessor. The case that Naolekar took up so hurriedly is only a couple of months old and relates to Ravi Nandan Singh, who resigned as Advocate-General of Madhya Pradesh exactly a week before Naolekar was sworn in as the Lokayukta. Singh had stated that he had resigned “on moral grounds” because of the complaint against him before the Lokayukta.

It may not be freaky to assume that Ravi Nandan Singh’s recommendation as Advocate-General of the State has played an important role in the selection of Naolekar for the Lokayukta’s office. Naolekar was practising law in Jabalpur, as had been his father and grandfather. Ravi Nandan Singh’s karmabhoomi is also Jabalpur. Singh might have occasions to appear before Naolekar when he was judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court (which has its main bench at Jabalpur) from June 1992 to April 1994 (when he was transferred to the Rajasthan High Court). After his retirement from the Supreme Court on June 29 last year, Naolekar had been living again in Jabalpur where Singh was the Advocate-General and his wife Sushila Singh is the Mayor of the Jabalpur Municipal Corporation. Naolekar was reported to have been attending the functions of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan in Jabalpur where the Mayor was also sometimes present.

Naolekar’s eagerness to “exonerate”, at the very first opportunity, Ravi Nandan Singh of the charges of accumulating disproportionate assets has naturally created disquietude in the mind of the people who have seen in the past the Lokayukta only trying to curry favour with those in power. The last incumbent, Ripusudan Dayal, only did it much more brazenly. Justice Faizanuddin, the predecessor of Ripusudan Dayal, had seen the ‘politician-bureaucrat-criminal nexus’ as largely responsible for the increase in number of cases of corruption and had virtually accused then chief minister Digvijay Singh of shielding the corrupt.

Shahida Sultan case

And how did Faizanuddin himself act in a case pertaining to Digvijay Singh? The Income-Tax Department raids on the premises of a liquor baron’s establishments had yielded a diary in which were reportedly recorded the sums of hush money paid to various functionaries in the Digvijay Singh government – the chief minister included. The I-T Department forwarded the relevant records to the Lokayukta for an investigation. Even without registering a case or starting a preliminary investigation, Faizanuddin had, in a statement, ruled out payment of hush money to Digvijay Singh. Faizanuddin is also a former Supreme Court judge.

The Shahida Sultan case illustrates vividly the working of the Lokayukta Organisation. She was picked up, on a tip-off, by the Lokayukta police at the Bhopal railway station as she alighted from the Karnataka Express in the night of May 8, 1997 with a suitcase containing over Rs six lakh. Shahida was a Police Inspector and was on deputation to the Transport Department. She was posted at a check-post on the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border in Khandwa district.

The Lokayukta police investigated the case and filed a challan in the special court under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The special court sentenced her on July 31, 2007 to two years’ rigorous imprisonment for being in possession of assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. Was that Shahida’s only crime? To say that Shahida was making money at the check-post for herself and was occasionally bringing suitcases full of currency notes to keep at home is simply ridiculous. For whom did she bring the suitcase?

There were curious turns in the investigation of the Shahida case. A relative of hers, Javed Mirza, came forward to claim that the money in the suitcase belonged to him and that Shahida was bringing it to deliver to him. He, however, could not produce any evidence to substantiate his claim. He was also sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, along with Shahida, by the special court.

The most deplorable turn in the case came when the State Government moved an application in the special court, through none but the prosecuting counsel (who was representing the Lokayukta Organisation), for withdrawal of the case “in public interest”.

Why had Shahida Sultan, a small fry in the system, become so important to the high-ups in the government that they shamelessly trampled all decency and propriety to save her? And what was the “public interest” involved in her acquittal? No one, who has an iota of intelligence, can believe that the concern of the then chief minister and his coterie was merely for a police inspector who had a small hobby of stacking in a suitcase currency notes obtained through illegitimate means and coming to Bhopal once in a while to dump the suitcase in her house. Since the investigation of the case was so thoroughly bungled by the Lokayukta police, the people would never know for whom the suitcase was meant or how many suitcases she had delivered earlier there.

It may not be appropriate to draw conclusions about Naolekar’s intentions on the basis of his selection of the first case even though some may see in this an eagerness to help a friend. Some really challenging cases are before him — and these include the corruption complaints against about a dozen ministers of the State. Perhaps the most important is the complaint against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and his wife Sadhna Singh, known as the dumper scam, the investigation of which has already been substantially bungled by Naolekar’s predecessor Ripusudan Dayal.


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.

Real face

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.

Bank transactions

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.

September 2018
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