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Rio has veiled contempt for rule of law: Nagaland Lokayukta

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DIMAPUR, SEPTEMBER 19: In a scathing attack on the functioning of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Nagaland Lokayukta has observed that the Chief Minister “keeps a veiled contempt for the Rule of Law.”
Nagaland Lokayukta Justice Uma Nath Singh made the observation while passing an order on the complaint submitted by Vicca S Aye against the Deputy Chief Minister of Nagland, Y Patton.
The Lokayukta said the CM, assigned to conduct the preliminary inquiry into the complaint, “disappointingly” failed to assist the Lokayukta for the reasons best known to him.
“However, his conduct leaves a wide scope to draw some inferences short of his stature,” he said in the 31-page order.
Justice Uma Nath said the CM, being the head of the State Government, should have risen above local petty politics and dispelled the impression that the inquiry has been delayed to suit some political expediency.
“…by ignoring to conduct the preliminary inquiry with all the means at his command and all the records under his control, he has left a wrong impression that he keeps a veiled contempt for the Rule of Law,” said the order.
Recommends sacking of Advocate General
The Lokayukta observed that there has been inordinate delay in conducting the inquiry and on account of repeated requests for adjournment, on behalf of the CM sometimes on the ground of non-availability of the Advocate General and some time on some other vague grounds with over-confidence which violated the mandate of judgments of the Supreme Court, it was thought necessary to reserve the case for final order.
He noted that the Additional Chief Secretary to the CM, J Alam had sought adjournment on the ground that considering the issue involved the CM has referred the matter to the AG Nagaland and that “the AG Nagaland was supposed to come to Kohima in connection with the matter but due to the present pandemic/COVID-19 and also, the restriction of movement, he could not come.”
“Nagaland a poor tribal state cannot afford to await the arrival of its Advocate General from Delhi. He has to be in Nagaland or else he should now show mercy on the state and quit the assignment and make room for the local lawyers in waiting,” he said.
“If the Governor and the Chief Minister can travel frequently to Delhi, then why not the Advocate General who may be much younger to them,” he observed.
In the order, Justice Uma Nath also stated that there is a general complaint that if the State Government wants to delay any matter, it simply refers the case to the AG in Delhi who sits over such files for months and in some cases over a year. “Maybe, the file of the Deputy Chief Minister was also referred with such motive to the A.G,” he observed.
Unimpressed with the conduct of the Advocate General, KN Balgopal, Justice Uma Nath recommended that the Governor of Nagaland consider withdrawing his pleasure extended for the appointment of Balgopal as the AG of Nagaland under Article 165 of the Constitution. He also urged the Governor to direct Balgopal to return all files sent for legal opinion in respect of the affairs of Nagaland Lokayukta organization forthwith, and may also consider divesting him of the membership of all the committees connected with the State Lokayukta organization.
(Page News Service)