No jurisdiction to entertain plea of deceased U.P. official’s wife: Lokpal

Her husband serving in U.P. Tourism department died by suicide after allegedly being pressured by his superiors to sign physical completion certificates for Central government projects under Swadesh Darshan Scheme

Published - November 06, 2023 03:19 am IST - New Delhi:

The Lokpal of India has ruled that it does not have the jurisdiction to entertain a plea filed by the wife of a government official in Uttar Pradesh who died by suicide after allegedly being pressured by his superiors to sign the physical completion certificates for Central government projects under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.

The Lokpal said in an order that the complaint directed against the Principal Secretary, Tourism and Culture, and Director General, Tourism, Uttar Pradesh would fall under the ambit and scope of criminal law and procedure and it would “have no jurisdiction to entertain this plea.”

It however, forwarded the complaint to the Union Tourism Secretary “to look into the matter at their end.” The Principal Secretary could not be reached for comments.

The complainant, who has not been identified in the order, said her late husband was serving in the Tourism department of Uttar Pradesh, till his death by suicide in February 2023.

“The allegation levelled by the complainant is that her husband was pressured by his superior, the public servant concerned, to sign the physical completion certificates for the schemes of Central government projects under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme though the said projects were not complete in all respects. The projects in which completion certificates were forcefully got signed under pressure are listed in the complaint,” the September 27 order said.

‘Felt humiliated’

She stated that the projects were not complete and did not meet the required standards. “Despite this fact, the public servant concerned exerted undue pressure on her husband to sign the completion certificates. Feeling humiliated, harassed, targeted, trapped and threatened by the public servant, her husband took his own life,” the order said.

The complainant demanded an investigation into eight Central government schemes and grants to the Uttar Pradesh’s Tourism department in order to unearth alleged wrongdoings and to examine all certificates.

The Swadesh Darshan Scheme was launched by the Centre in 2014-15 for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits. Under the scheme, the Ministry of Tourism provides financial assistance to State governments for development of tourism infrastructure in the country.

The second phase of the scheme was launched earlier this year. According to details available on the Ministry of Tourism’s website, the eight projects worth ₹419 crore in Uttar Pradesh that have been completed under the scheme include the Buddhist circuit (development of Srawasti, Kushinagar and Kapilwastu), Ramayana circuit (development of Chitrakoot and Shringverpur), Spiritual Circuit (development of Gorakhnath Temple-Gorakhpur, Devipattan Temple- Balrampur and Vatvashni Temple- Domariyagunj).

The Lokpal, the country’s first anti-corruption body instituted four years ago to investigate complaints against public functionaries including the Prime Minister, does not have a full-time chairperson since May 2022.

According to a parliamentary committee report tabled in Parliament in April, the Lokpal “has not prosecuted even a single person accused of graft till date.”

According to the data provided by the Lokpal office to the panel on Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), since 2019-20, the anti-corruption body received 8,703 complains out of which 5,981 complaints were disposed of.

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