Dr Shekhar Salkar, an onco surgeon, has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) before the high court of Bombay at Goa seeking a direction to the state government to appoint the Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta in accordance with the Lokayukta Act, 2011.
While pointing out that the act was passed by the legislative assembly on October 5, 2011, and it was notified in the official gazette on May 18, 2012, the PIL states that though the act has been in force for a substantial period of time, its machinery remains effectively suspended on account of the fact that there has been no appointment of either the Lokayukta or the Upa Lokayuktas.
The petitioner stated that the Lokayukta is an institution that has been specifically designed to protect the fundamental rights of the people. The petitioner alleged that in the light of all the scams that have surfaced, now more than ever, the state requires an unbiased independent authority to look into issues.
"The manifesto of the present government for the election clearly outlined a specific promise for the appointment of a Lokayukta within 100 days of entering office. However, close to 11 months have passed since the election, but no Lokayukta has been put in place. It is a matter of public opinion widely reported in the media that the issue of corruption within the government had been one of the principal election issues in the state legislative assembly election in 2012," Salkar alleged in the PIL
The PIL states that the structure of the act categorically sets out the importance of the existence of a Lokayukta at all times so that even in the event of any natural or other eventuality, the post of the Lokayukta shall not remain vacant.
The PIL alleged that "each and every state has undertaken the obligation to set up a Lokayukta after consistent agitation by members of civil society against the growing menace of corruption in all levels of governance. Therefore, the sustained inaction on the part of the government of Goa in failing to discharge its statutory obligation to appoint a Lokayukta and/or Upa Lokayuktas under the act is a glaring omission that must be rectified at the earliest".
While stating that an act once passed cannot effectively be completely subverted through inaction in the appointment of the appropriate authorities, the PIL states that "the prolonged, unreasonable and unjustified non-appointment, as is seen in the case of the proposed Goa Lokayukta, can seriously jeopardize the fundamental rights of the people of the state of Goa".
The PIL alleged that the non-appointment of the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta is wholly unjustified and the delay in appointments is further causing a delay in the inquiry into the grievances and allegations against public functionaries. "Section 3 of the act is couched in mandatory terms and enjoins a specific statutory duty which must be discharged at the earliest. The non-appointment of the Lokayukta under the act amounts to a continuing breach of the statutory obligations enjoined under the act," the petitioner remarked.
The high court has posted the hearing of the PIL to March 18. [TOI]