Monday, September 1, 2014

Patra Commission directs further inquiry into corruption allegations against 4 former Ministers, gives clean chit to rest

GANGTOK, 01 Sept: The Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice [retd] RK Patra appointed by the State Government to enquire into corruption allegations 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. The commission of inquiry was instituted to look into corruption allegations leveled by the Congress party 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.
The report was tabled today in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in a daylong session summoned by the Speaker KN Rai. After tabling of the report, the house 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 on 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 have been forwarded to the Lokayukta for further inquiry.
Minister Subba said 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 since operation of the Lokayukta Act in the state of Sikkim.
He said that these cases will be independently dealt with by the Lokayukta adding that he has also received summon from the Lokayukta to appear before him 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,” said the Minister.

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