Dimapur, April 15 (EMN): The presence of the anti-corruption ombudsman Lokayukta has started making its rounds with the district administration of Dimapur hosting a number of promotional programmes concerning the Lokayukta and its functions.
For Lokayukta cases, prosecution sanction will no longer be with the state’s government. Also, cases under investigation by the erstwhile Vigilance are now transferred, and inherited by the Lokayukta, officials at a recent seminar in Dimapur were told.
Elsewhere in Kohima too, civil service probationers were given a discourse on the Lokayukta.
A seminar to publicise the Lokayukta was conducted on April 15 in the conference hall of the Dimapur deputy commissioner, updates from the government’s publicity agency, the department of Information and Public Relations (IPR) stated on Monday.
Heads of departments, administrative officers; members of nongovernmental organisations, law students and others attended the programme, the IPR stated.
The Lokayukta for Nagaland, Justice Uma Nath Singh, highlighted the fundamental aspects of the Lokayukta Act. He spoke about the provisions for filing complaints under Lokayukta. Complaints can be received by the Lokayukta provided they follow certain guidelines and provisions, the gathering was told. He urged the officials to taking effective measures to combat corruption.
Inspector General of Police and director for Lokayukta, I Meyi Onen said in his keynote address that the special feature of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act of 2017 was that the issue of prosecution sanction will no longer be with the state’s government as far as Lokayukta cases are concerned.
With the implementation of the Lokayukta Act, all cases under investigation by the erstwhile Vigilance are now transferred, and inherited by Lokayukta, he said. The Lokayukta has been empowered by section-26 of the Act to issue prosecution sanction, Onen added.
The police officer maintained that the Lokayukta should in no way dilute the directorate of Investigation’s legal authority or operational effectiveness as far as criminal investigation of cases referred to them by the Lokayukta are concerned.
Citing corruption and mismanagement as two problems affecting the efficiency of the administrations, Onen felt that the Lokayukta would act as a powerful preventive influence to ensure speedy and impartial decision in matters that affect citizens at large.
Upa Lokayukta Mayanglima, no surname given, also felt that the people’s participation was important to bring down corruption and to make the commissioning of the Lokayukta effective, the IPR stated.
Officers-in-training taught anti-corruption paradigms
The Administrative Training Institute (ATI) in Kohima also hosted on April 12 a similar programme for state civil service officers on probation.
The ATI conducted the training programme as part of a Lokayukta-themed study for the probationers, of the 2019 batch. Advocate Kezhokhoto Savi was the resourced person, the Nagaland Voluntary Consumer Organisation (NVCO) stated in a press release that was issued to the media on Monday.
In his presentation, Savi stated that the Lokayukta in Nagaland was established in accordance with provisions of section-63 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 for the state. It was instated to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries.
The Nagaland Lokayukta Act of 2017 was enacted and implemented by appointing former chief justice of Meghalaya Uma Nath Singh as the Lokayukta for the state of Nagaland on February 2 2019.
The establishment of the Lokayukta in Nagaland was the demand of the people as they solely believe in the cause to eradicate corruption from the state, he said.
The NVCO member defined the Lokayukta as an anti-corruption ombudsman organization in the Indian states. The origin of the Lokayukta can be traced to the ombudsman in the Scandinavian countries. Simply, the Lokayukta institution is an anti-corruption agency; it is a watchdog to pinpoint the wrongdoing of administrations and public functionaries; look into the complaints of the people and to suggest measures to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the government.
The establishment of the institution is to provide clean, transparent, and accountable government for the people, he said. The main objective of the Lokayukta is to curb the menace of corruption within the state.
‘When any individual makes a complaint against a public servant relating to corruption, mismanagement, favoritism, nepotism etc., the Lokayukta looks into such matters and investigates. When they find out that the allegations are true, the public servant is punished,’ the advocate said.
‘Lokayukta is a great check on corruption; to bring about transparency in the system; to make state administrative machinery citizen-friendly.’
As the Lokayukta is to deal solely with corruption, Savi explained the aspects of corruption and in the context of Nagaland. ‘Corruption means misuse of entrusted power for private gain. Corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority and very often to acquire personal benefit,’ he said.
“Corruption is internationally recognized as a major problem which is capable of threatening the social, Economic, and Political development of a country. As corruption in public life is gross violation of human rights, it is anti-people,” the NVCO stated.
‘The Supreme Court also remarked that corruption is like disease called cancer and if not detected in time it grows bigger and bigger and it will malign the polity of the country leading to disastrous consequence,’ the press release stated.
Corruption in the context of Nagaland
Corruption in the context of Nagaland, the NVCO leader said, includes various aspects of abuse. They are abuse of power, which is to use position or status to discriminate somebody or gain something from that person.
“Some officer avails or uses the services of government employees for their own personal work and benefit such as engaged them i.e., the grade-IV or constable in their own private works,” Savi stated. Another is nepotism—giving jobs to known and trusted people, or relatives and family members.
“Appointment in government offices without any advertisement in the press and no selection process is followed. The concerned government approval authority approves candidatures of their own children and relatives, and the appointing authority appointing own sons and daughters and relatives,” Savi said. Similarly, another form of nepotism is favouritism—giving unfair opportunity to friends.
Likewise, another form of corruption is extortion—obtaining something by force, threat or unfair means. Bribery is again another. It refers to taking or giving money for jobs, profession, treatment or dishonestly persuade someone for help through cash.
The other forms include embezzlement, which is stealing money or resources that is under one’s control. Misuse of public funds, misappropriation and diversion of various schemes including central schemes are such.
Likewise, fraud is another form of corruption. It refers to making false claims for benefits etc. “False medical re-imbursement or including expensive medicines, cheatingly drawing travelling allowances, leave travel concession, General Provident Fund, leave encashment, pension, etc.” the NVCO leader explained.
The press release referred to the trend of ‘backdoor appointments’ too, in the state. This form of corruption is one of the state’s biggest problems, the updates explained.