Updated 7 Jul 2022, 5:06 am
The Manipur High Court has stated that the Manipur Lokayukta has the power and jurisdiction to make recommendations to MSPDCL officials who challenged the recommendations of Manipur Lokayukta in connection with misappropriation of huge amounts of money, questioning the jurisdiction of recommendation by Manipur Lokayukta.
A single bench of the High Court of Manipur justice Ahanthem Bimol on Monday stated that the court did not find any material or ground to interfere with recommendations during the proceedings of the writ petitions.
Moreover, as the Manipur Lokayukta had recommended for conducting an investigation, strictly in terms of the relevant provisions of the Act and rules, no civil consequences against the MSDPCL officials follows from such action of the Manipur Lokayukta and the officials cannot be said to be aggrieved by such action of the Manipur Lokayukta and accordingly, the court is not inclined to pass any interim order at the stage.
In connection with the contract work for construction of 2x1 MVA 33/11 KV Sub-Station Chakpikarong along with the associated 33 KV line and related civil works on turn-key basis under NLCPR was executed by Shyama Power (India) Pvt Ltd under work order of September25, 2009 with total contract amount of Rs 9,45,80,605 during the period from December 2009 to December 2015.
The company failed to supply two transformers to the Power Department though the department installed the transformers somehow or rather without supplying the articles, the court stated.
It stated that the company and the concerned officials of the department colluded intentionally and wilfully to mislead the general public by manipulating the public fund in their pocket.
It was also alleged that the company executed only 4 km LILO (2+2) as against 45 km for which sanction had been made by the Government of India under NLCPR and therefore, a balance amount of Rs 5,18,98,440 seems to have been misappropriated.
Manipur Lokayukta ordered for holding a preliminary enquiry into the allegations made in the complaint.
After holding a preliminary enquiry, the enquiry officer of Manipur Lokayukta submitted a 68 pages preliminary enquiry report to the effect that prima facie evidence is well established against the officials of the MSPDCL and the turn-key firm for committing offences punishable under section 7(b)/13 PC Act and section 120-B/34 of the IPC.
Manipur Lokayukta, on February 7, 2022 passed the impugned judgment holding that there is prima facie evidence against the present petitioners for committing offences under Section 7(B)/13 PC Act and Section 120-B/34 of the IPC and that there is a prima facie case against the petitioners for investigation.
Accordingly, the Manipur Lokayukta passed the following orders by invoking its jurisdiction under Section 20(3), 28 and 32 of the Lokayukta and recommended for investigation against the officials of MSPDCL.
Being aggrieved by the recommendations made by the Manipur Lokayukta, the MSPDCL officers assailed by filing the writ petitions for redressing their grievances.
The HC after hearing submissions from counsels clarified that Manipur Lokayukta has power for recommendation and the court stated that it did not find any ground or justification for passing any interim order at the stage which may result in staying the criminal investigation against the MSDPCL officers.
Although the Manipur Lokayukta has the power and jurisdiction to make recommendation for not allowing the officers to continue as officials of the Manipur State Power Corporation Limited in their respective capacity till completion of the investigation as provided under Section 32(1) of the Lokayukta Act and though the court did not find any material or ground for interfering with such recommendations at the stage, the question still remains as to whether the Manipur Lokayukta is justified or has the jurisdiction or authority to insist or direct the implementation of such recommendations.
While a senior counsel argued that Manipur Lokayukta passed several orders directing the concerned officials of the state government to appear before it personally and insisting them to give reasons or justification for not accepting such recommendations and pressurizing the state officials to implement recommendations if they failed to give reasons and that such factums are clearly reflected in the proceedings of the Manipur Lokayukta in connection with the Complaint Case No. 2 of 2020 pending before the Manipur Lokayukta.
However, government advocate submitted that the recommendations of the Manipur Lokayukta, for not allowing the officers to function as officials of the MSPCL in their respective capacity till the completion of the investigation, was placed before the state cabinet for its consideration.
However, the state cabinet had deferred the matter in relation to the recommendations made by the Manipur Lokayukta by stating that the Power Department should re-submit the matter for consideration of the cabinet after incorporating the decisions of this court in the pending writ petitions. Accordingly, the state government is yet to take a decision with regard to the recommendation of the Manipur Lokayukta.
After hearing the rival submission, the HC stated that Manipur Lokayukta was not justified in insisting to furnish the reasons for not accepting recommendations since the state government is yet to take a decision with regard to the recommendation.
“As the state government is yet to take a decision with regard to the recommendations of the Manipur Lokayukta for not allowing the officers to continue in their respective official capacity in the MSPCL till the completion of the investigation, this court hope and trust that the Manipur Lokayukta will not insist or direct the authorities of the state government to implement or carry out recommendations,” stated the HC.
The HC made clear that the observations made by the court should not be construed as an interim order restraining the state government from taking a decision as to whether the state government will accept the recommendations of the Lokayukta as mandated under Section 32(2) of the Lokayukta Act.
“It is hoped and trusted that the state government will take a decision with regard to the recommendations of the Manipur Lokayukta as mandated under Section 32(2) of the Lokayukta Act as early as possible”, the HC said.
First published:6 Jul 2022, 3:42 am
MSPDCLManipur high courtManipur LokayuktaLokayukta Act
IFP Reporter, IMPHAL, Manipur