SC agrees to hear Nagaland’s plea raising questions over functioning of Lokayukta

    The Supreme Court issued notice in a petition filed by the state government seeking cessation of the Nagaland Lokayukta’s powers and functions.

    A three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice today after Advocate General for the State KN Balgopal made submissions on behalf of the state.

    The state government, in its plea, has urged the apex court to pass appropriate direction in exercise of its power under Article 142 of the Constitution “to ensure that the institutional integrity of the post of Nagaland Lokayukta and the spirit” of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act, 2017 “are preserved”.

    Article 142 of the Constitution deals with enforcement of decrees and orders of the Supreme Court and says that in exercise of its jurisdiction, it may pass order for doing complete justice in any matter pending before it.

    Lokayukta Justice Uma Nath Singh, who is former Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court, also made a request to the Chief Secretary of the state government for relaxation of Section 4(2)(c) of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act in order to facilitate his engagement as an arbitrator in an arbitration matter. The provision makes it impermissible for the Lokayukta to hold any other office, the plea explains.

    The petition elaborates on arbitrary demands that not only did it seek permission to function online from Delhi, but he also made a request before the Chief Secretary of the state for accommodation, among other things.

    The Lokayukta also demanded for allotment of a former Chief Minister’s residence-cum-bungalow to him, according to the plea. The petition further claims that Justice Singh had directed the Inspector General of Police at Dimapur to purchase two pairs of shoes and send them to his residence at Kohima. The IGP was told to take pictures of the shoes and send them by WhatsApp for the Lokayukta’s approval.

    The petition prays before the court:

    “…it is imperative that the prayers sought in the writ petition be granted by this Hon’ble Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32 read with Article 142 in order to protect the institutional autonomy and propriety of the office of Lokayukta which, in the constitutional and statutory scheme, is necessary to ensure the preservation of the legitimate rights and expectations under Article 14, inter alia, of the residents of Nagaland against arbitrary/unreasonable action of statutorily appointed office bearers.”