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State AG has become Super Chief Minister: Nagaland Lokayukta

Nagaland Lokayukta

Dimapur, September 20: The Nagaland Lokayukta has alleged that the Advocate General Nagaland KN Balgopal on the strength of his proximity to the Chief Minister is acting like the “Super Chief Minister” of the State.
“…the Advocate General only on the strength of his proximity to the Chief Minister has become the Super Chief Minister,” said Justice Uma Nath Singh in an order on a complaint against State Deputy Chief Minister. The order issued on September 18 had dismissed the complaint against the DyCM.
Observing that the present AG though based in Delhi has continued in office for over a decade “except for a couple of years when the present Chief Minister was out of power in Nagaland,” the Lokayukta said three notifications in respect of the AG’s present tenure issued within a brief period of 8 months “suggest some indiscreet bestowal of government favours.”
The order observed that the AG was given a Cabinet status with headquarters at Delhi retrospectively with effect from 14th March 2018 when he was not even appointed as the Advocate General on that date. “Should it be called a manipulation or a reckless and casual way of functioning in state government’s office,” he asked.
Justice Uma Nath observed that after 6 months, the retainer fee of the AG was raised from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1,50,000 per month and the consultation fee fixed for Rs 1,25,000 per month with all other prerequisites including furnished centrally located accommodation in Kohima “which is hardly occupied by him even for a month in a year.”
“Moreover, none of the Notifications has created any restrictions on his private practice, not even a bar that his juniors cannot accept briefs against the state of Nagaland. And that may be the main reason as why opinion files of the state government remain unattended for months and some cases for over a year,” he said.
Stating that under Section 32 of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act, 2017, the state government has powers to frame rules connected with Nagaland Lokayukta organization in consultation with the Lokayukta, he said the AG got the file for drafting the rules referred to him and has been sitting over it for the past over one and half year “waiting for Lokayukta to leave the organization so that the state Government can create new posts and make illegal appointments through backdoor for extraneous consideration.”
Justice Uma Nath said in the absence of rules the Lokayukta organization was on the verge of closing down, when the Lokayukta had to issue regulations to cover all the essential areas by over-stretching his regulation making powers under Section 33 of the Act.
The service condition of the erstwhile Nagaland Vigilance police and other staff which have merged into the Nagaland Lokayukta Organization under Section 36 are very much uncertain in the absence of their service rules. So is the position regarding the investigation rules, he said, adding the AG has virtually driven the State Anti-Corruption Ombudsman to a position of close down.
“It is a million dollar question as to whom does the Advocate General want to protect from inquiry or investigation of the Lokayukta,” he said.
The Nagaland Lokayukta also expressed doubt that the Nagaland Lokayukta Act 2017 would have been enacted had the present ruling party in the State was in power.
“The present ruling party of Nagaland was in opposition when the Act was enacted and perhaps, had it been in power, it would have fought tooth and nail against any such move,” he said in the order. (Page News Service)