Party no bar, everybody gets it from the watchdog

Not just Congress members, even BJP councillors were pulled up by Lokayukta

While the office of the Delhi Lokayukta has been in the news of late due to action taken by it against chief minister Sheila Dikshit, several municipal councillors have also been under the scanner of Justice Manmohan Sarin in the past.

But the nature of response about the functioning and powers of the Lokayukta depends on whom you are talking to.

“He is a very honest man, but at times he goes overboard. Several complaints against elected representatives are politically motivated. He must conduct proper investigation about the documentary proof provided before issuing notice to elected representatives,” says a senior BJP councillor, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Once the notice is sent, the media picks it up and the image of leaders is tarnished even before they are indicted. But hardly any news appears about their exoneration.”

“In my case, a complaint was registered that I had called up a junior engineer not to take action against an illegal building. But I was exonerated only after I produced documentary proof of the call records of my phone. The fact remained that it was not me, rather the junior engineer concerned who called me. And that too for some other work,” adds the councillor.

On the contrary, leader of opposition in South Corporation, Farhad Suri, says he finds Justice Sarin to be reasonable in his approach. “Around 10 complaints have been filed against me, and I was exonerated in all the cases. He followed the due process. I was cleared of all the charges,” says Suri.

While those at the receiving end complain about the way the Lokayukta functions, other councillors — especially those from the ruling party — say the Lokayukta lacks “teeth” and the city government needs to amend laws to empower him.

“The office of the Lokayukta was constituted long ago in 1995. Things on the social front have changed in the past two decades. One corruption case after another is surfacing daily. The media has become more vibrant. But the Sheila Dikshit government has hardly brought any amendment since 1998 to empower the office of the Lokayukta,” says Ashish Sood, BJP councillor and chairperson of the remunerative project cell in South Corporation.

BJP councillors also accused the Congress of disrespecting independent constitutional and statutory bodies. “The state governments of Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have empowered the Lokayukta to the hilt. Regular raids have been conducted in these states against the corrupt by the Lokayukta’s office,” says V P Pandey, chairperson of the North Corporation committee on department of environment management services.

Some confusion

While BJP councillors accuse the Congress of disrespecting autonomous agencies in the country, they also say the BJP has been acting against its own members against whom complaints were filed. “Several councilors were suspended from the party even before the Lokayukta indicted them. They were also denied tickets by the party in the last municipal elections. But just observe the response of chief minister Sheila Dikshit against the Lokayukta,” says Subhash Arya, leader of the House in South Corporation.

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