But Lokayuktas’s conviction rate for senior officials is zero, allege activists

The Special Police Establishment (SPE) attached to the Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta arrested Mayank Shroti, a former personal assistant of Energy, Mines and Information Minister Rajendra Shukla, for taking a bribe from transport contractor Vijay Yadav here on Friday.

Lokayukt Superintendent of Police Siddharth Choudhary said Mr. Shroti was caught while accepting the bribe from Mr. Yadav. “A case has been registered and the accused has been released on bail,” Mr. Choudhary said.

Last month, former minister Laxmikant Sharma, his assistant O.P. Shukla and Governor Ram Naresh Yadav’s aide Dhanraj Yadav were named in an FIR in a recruitment scam. Investigations into allegations of corruption against at least three serving ministers— Babulal Gaur, Paras Jain and Gaurishankar Bisen— is pending with the Lokayukt. In addition, around 50 senior civil servants and several former ministers have Lokayukt probes pending against them.

This week, the agency got sanction to prosecute Additional Chief Secretary Ajita Bajpai Pande in a graft case dating back to 1998. However, sanction to prosecute Indian Administrative Service couple Arvind and Tinoo Joshi, from whom Rs. 3 crore was recovered in2011, is still pending.

Activists pin the blame in sanction given to prosecute officials, by the Central and State governments, on red tape. Former Director General of Police Arun Gurtoo had petitioned the Madhya Pradesh High Court to ensure time-bound probes by the Lokayukt. “The High Court ordered that sanction for prosecution for senior officials should be sent within two months. It also forbade the State government from making any comments on the files. Unfortunately, the State government continues to delay and the agency is also affected by political pressure,” Mr. Gurtoo told this correspondent.

Lokayukt PP Naolekar told The Hindu that he could not recall the complaints against serving ministers off-hand. “Delays are always there as documents are needed from several institutions. There are cases pending from 2005. The government’s justification is that many files have to be requisitioned from sub offices in far-off areas,” he said.

Right to Information (RTI) activist Ajay Dubey is pursuing two petitions in the High Court — the first for autonomy to the criminal investigation department, the Special Police Establishment (SPE) and the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and the second to bring the Lokayukt and the SPE under the RTI act.

“The Lokayukt is sympathetic to corruption in high places. Justice Naolekar had asked for the Lokayukt to be kept out of the RTI. The Lokayukt has powers of a civil court. It can issue warrants and seize records. Yet, its conviction rate is zero for ministers and senior officials,” Mr. Dubey said.

He added that the EOW, which is meant to crackdown on serious offences and major crimes mainly traps junior public servants. “The Congress and the BJP are united on this. Officers for whom the Congress government refused to sanction prosecution before 1993 have still not been convicted,” he said.

Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan has said after being elected for the third time that there would be zero tolerance for corruption.

  • Three serving ministers and 50 civil servants have Lokayukta probes pending against them

  • ‘Lokayukta is sympathetic to corruption in high places’