Friday, September 5, 2014

Commission completes inquiry, now Lokayukta to take a relook


The Commission of Inquiry comprising of Justice [retd] RK Patra appointed by the State Government in 2011 to enquire into corruption allegations leveled against the Chief Minister and several Cabinet Ministers [of previous SDF governments] has “directed” the State Government to “inquire into certain aspects” of allegations leveled against four former Ministers [out of 22 accused].
The Commission was instituted to look into corruption allegations leveled by the Congress party [in its publication “Sikkimma Burmaloot”] against 22 former Ministers in the year 2010. Of these 22, the Commission has “not fully accepted the explanations furnished” by four former Ministers – Sonam Gyatso Lepcha, NK Pradhan, TT Bhutia and Menlom Lepcha. The Commission had submitted its report on 07 March earlier this year and the same, along with the action taken report on its directions was tabled in the Legislative Assembly during its one-day sitting on 01 September. After tabling of the report and the ATR, the House was adjourned sine die.
The Commission, as mentioned, has not fully accepted the explanations furnished by former Power Minister Sonam Gyatso Lepcha [sitting Deputy Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly] along with three other former ministers NK Pradhan, Thinlay Tshering Bhutia and Menlom Lepcha.
While detailing the action taken report on the Commission’s recommendations, Law Minister RB Subba told the House today that “…on the coming into force of the Lokayukta Act 2014, and the Lokayukta being constituted, any allegation of corruption pending before the Vigilance Wing of the State Government or any other body or authority or Commission of Inquiry, constituted under Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, shall stand transferred to Lokayukta constituted under this Act to be dealt in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
In effect then, allegations against all the 22 [including the 18 given a clean chit by the Patra Commission] have been forwarded to the Lokayukta for further inquiry.
Minister Subba detailed that despite the clean chit given by Justice RK Patra Inquiry Commission to 18 former and sitting ministers and MLAs including bureaucrats named in the Commission's report and irrespective of whether the commission had accepted their explanations as to their income and assets, the case automatically stood transferred to the Lokayukta.
He said that these cases will be independently dealt with by the Lokayukta adding that he has also already received a summon from the Lokayukta to appear before it on 16 September.
“The Lokayukta at present is seized of the matter and allegations against persons concerned are subject matter of fresh investigation by Lokayukta in accordance with the provisions of Sikkim Lokayukta Act,” the report submitted in Assembly states. Needless to add, the Opposition has dismissed the Patra Commission as an eyewash and also condemned the Speaker’s refusal to allow a debate in the Assembly on the Commission’s findings or the government’s action taken report.

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