A view of the Nagaland Lokayukta Office in Kohima. (Photo Courtesy: https://lokayukta.nagaland.gov.in/)
• Says Nagaland govt may face serious trouble in judicial forums in face of ‘casual legal advice’
• Directs Chief Secretary and Commissioner in Charge of Law to file affidavits
DIMAPUR, DECEMBER 3 (MExN): The Nagaland Lokayukta today pulled up the Nagaland State Law Department for displaying ignorance of the law in giving legal advice to the State Industries and Commerce Department pertaining to a case before the Lokayukta.
An order from the Nagaland Lokayukta, Justice Uma Nath Singh and Upa Lokayukta, Mayang Lima observed that State Departments are not acquainted with the procedures in matters pending and filed before the Lokayukta, “particularly on account of absence of rules to be framed by the state government in consultation with the Lokayukta.”
This observation came in connection to a case regarding a complaint filed by a retired Functional Manager, Seikedo Thoshu. The Principal Secretary of the Industries and Commerce Department, Lithrongla G Chishi filed an affidavit which was not properly indexed and paginated.
The Lokayukta stated that it being a quasi judicial body, affidavits should be filed in the same way as documents are being filed in the courts.
The department was asked to refer the matter to the Department of Law for legal advice and vetting. Subsequently, the department filed a fresh affidavit after vetting by the Law Department on November 5.
The Lokayukta however took exception to the advice rendered by the Law Department, particularly the part where the department said that the “Lokayukta is strictly for corruption cases and such service matters should not have been referred to it.” The Lokayukta observed that this advice is “putting affront to the power and function of Lokayukta without reading the provisions of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act 2017.”
It expressed concern that if “such casual legal advice devoid of basis of law is pressed into service by State legal advisors, the State Government may face serious troubles before judicial forums.”
“Lokayukta is a custodian of the faith of the people of Nagaland in Rule of Law and also the State Anti Corruption Ombudsman. It is a quasi judicial body before which all affidavits have to be filed with utmost caution,” it informed.
The Lokayukta noted that the Officer who has given the legal advice is “either ignorant about the law or has given the advice without even having a glance at the provision of the Lokayukta Act.” The Lokayukta said that it may be highly unsafe for the State Government to seek and depend upon such legal advice.
Considering this, the Lokayukta issued a notice to the Chief Secretary and Home Commissioner (who is the Commissioner in charge of Law Department) to file their affidavits as to “how far it is safe for the people of Nagaland as also the State Government to depend upon such Law Officers for legal advice.”
It directed the officers to identify the officer responsible for the particular advice and seek his/her explanation and incorporate the same in their affidavits “so that we may pass appropriate order(s) in respect of that officer while deciding and disposing of the case on merit on the next day of hearing.”
It meanwhile explained that "grievance” that can be laid before the Lokayukta include a claim by a person that he/she suffered injustice or hardship as a consequence of mal-administration.
Here, "mal-administration" is defined as “actions taken or purported to have been taken or failed to have been taken, where such action or failure is unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improper or discriminatory or with undue delay or negligent or distortive of procedures, practices etc…governing such actions.”
Coming back to the case, the Lokayukta informed that the application made by the complainant is based on “grievance” against “maladministration,” and is thus maintainable under section 10(1) of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act as well as Section 11.
The Lokayukta further noted that “it was not proper” for the Principal Secretary of the Industries and Commerce Department to submit a letter without any request for exemption.
“Thus, we decline to take the letter on record and direct her to remain present on the next day of hearing,” it added.