Lokayukta seeks action against ex-mayor

Lokayukta seeks action against ex-mayor

The Lokayukta on Friday indicted Jai Shree Panwar, former municipal councillor, for her willingness to support and arrange unauthorised construction, as shown in a sting operation by a news channel on December 6, 2011.

Justice Manmohan Sarin had taken suo moto cognisance of the news report that appeared in national dailies the next day.

While reiterating the settled position that the higher the office the greater the responsibility, and the higher the expectation for observation of norms of integrity and good conduct, Justice Sarin recommended to the Lieutenant Governor that a censure be issued to the then councillor for her misconduct.

He also agreed with the amicus curiae Akshay Makhija for forwarding to the appropriate investigative agency the evidence recoded in the inquiry for consideration as to whether it constitutes an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and warrants any further action.

Panwar, former Mayor of Delhi, was refused ticket by Congress in the municipal polls held last month.

During the inquiry, the news channel produced the original recording of the sting operation showing Panwar participating in negotiations with decoy builders regarding unauthorised construction.

She took the defence that it was a case of entrapment, the broadcast was defamatory and being a public representative she had to be polite and diplomatic with her constituents.

She also claimed that no money was accepted by her for any illegal activity and that she had an unblemished record as mayor of Delhi (2002 -2003) and is the daughter of a celebrated freedom fighter.

While rejecting the plea of entrapment, the Lokayukta held that it was hardly a situation where Panwar was induced into saying anything, rather she was saying out of her free will. As an astute councillor, she was planning for the opportune time for unauthorised construction, the Lokayukta said.

On the question of the telecast following the sting operation being skewed and malafide, Justice Sarin held that the sting operation was for the public good to expose the menace of unauthorised construction and complicity of city representatives. As for the telecast being defamatory or malafide, the respondent has separate remedies under the law.

The Lokayukta concluded, “The willing participation of the respondent also becomes evident from the fact that she was advising caution so that the construction is raised at an opportune time, and with the involvement of a willing junior engineer.

This would ensure it would not be demolished later. She was also allaying fears when enquired, that the impending polls would not pose a problem and they could easily construct during the elections since MCD officials would be busy with other work then.”

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