A division bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jabalpur admitted a petition on September 6 asking the court to direct the state government to complete corruption investigations against several ministers and bureaucrats. Acting Chief Justice KK Lahoti and Justice Subhash Kakade asked the State’s Counsel Piyush Dharmadhikari to take instructions from the government and answer the court in the first week of October.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by activist PG Najpande lists 11 serving and former ministers and 50 officials of the All India Services being probed by the Lokayukta for the last eight years. These include Urban Development Minister and former CM Babulal Gaur, Medical Education Minister and former PM AB Vajpayee’s nephew Anup Mishra and cabinet ministers Kailash Vijayvargiya, Laxmikant Sharma, Ajay Vishnoi and Jayant Mallayya. Top IAS officers include Principal Secretary (Planning, Economics and Statistics) S. R. Mohanty, Principal Secretary (Panchayat and Rural Development) Rajesh Rajora and suspended couple Tinoo and Arvind Joshi.
Mr. Najpande told The Hindu that he has requested that the government be ordered to provide all documents required by the Lokayukta to complete the investigations. “If investigations had been completed on time then most of these ministers would have been unable to contest the 2008 elections. Yet, they continue in power and make more money,” he alleged.
His lawyer Arvind Shrivastava explained, “The Lokayukt Evam Up-Lokayukt Adhiniyam and the Criminal Procedure Code do not fix a time limit for investigations. So investigative agencies take their own time and this is being delayed by the government by not providing the files requested by the Lokayukta.”
Speaking to The Hindu, Lokayukta Justice PP Naolekar said, “Until files are given to me, I cannot proceed with investigations. The government has not done so in many cases.” On Friday, Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh gave a reminder letter to Mr. Naolekar demanding that he ask the government to submit the documents immediately.
Speaking over telephone from Datia, Law Minister Narottam Mishra said, “We will obey whatever the High Court says.” He refused to answer as to why the government was refusing to hand over files demanded by the Lokayukta.
The MP High Court’s decision, to admit the plea, comes two days after the Supreme Court refused to review its earlier verdict that legislators convicted of any criminal offence attracting a punishment of two years or more will be disqualified immediately.