SC accepts resignation of Nagaland Lokayukta

Lokayukta Kohima Morung File Photo

Lokayukta Kohima Morung File Photo

New Delhi, February 1 (PTI): The Supreme Court Monday accepted the resignation of Nagaland Lokayukta Justice (retd) Uma Nath Singh, days after he said he was willing to step down as suggested by the apex court provided the state government or others are restrained from initiating any kind of action or “defaming him in media” based on the pending plea.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that Justice (retd) Singh should be adequately protected when he goes to Nagaland to collect his belongings.

The apex court allowed him to resign from his post as the head of the ombudsman subject to certain conditions.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the retired judge, had earlier filed in the top court a note containing willingness of Justice (retd) Singh to resign.

The bench had earlier asked the senior lawyer to take instruction on the possibility of Nagaland Lokayukta resigning from the post.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Nagaland government, which has raised questions over the functioning of Lokayukta in the state.

Justice (retd) Singh, the former Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court, had said in his note that he “submits his resignation” due to “unpleasant circumstances and a very hostile environment” and he was unable to continue as the Chairperson Lokayukta, Nagaland, forthwith.

“This court may treat this as his resignation and may pass orders accordingly,” it had said.

The note of submission said that Nagaland or any other authority or person “shall not use or refer to any material or averment placed on record in the present petition or connected with the state government for initiating any kind of action, complain or proceedings or defaming him in media or any other manner to his privileges, status (professional, official or otherwise)”.

It had also urged the top court that nobody should be allowed to “tarnish the image” of Justice (retd) Singh and only factual reporting, confined to the content of the apex court''s order be permitted.

The Registrar General of the Gauhati High Court and the Chief Secretary of Nagaland and Commissioner/ Secretary to the Governor be directed to ensure taking custody of articles supposed to be handed over by Lokayukta to his office, it had said, adding that this would be needed for his “safe and graceful exit” after the resignation.

The ombudsman had said he has “no objection” if a compromise is arrived at in a criminal case involving his one of the earlier personal security officers by a trial court at Kohima.

Earlier, the top court had wondered as to how the Lokayukta of Nagaland would discharge his duties in the north-eastern state while sitting in national capital.

In August last year, the apex court had agreed to hear the plea filed by the state government which has arrayed Chairperson, Lokayukta as one of the respondents.

The state government, in its plea, had urged the apex court to pass appropriate direction in exercise of its power under Article 142 of the Constitution “to ensure that the institutional integrity of the post of Nagaland Lokayukta and the spirit” of the Nagaland Lokayukta Act, 2017 “are preserved”.

Article 142 of the Constitution deals with enforcement of decrees and orders of the Supreme Court and says that in exercise of its jurisdiction, it may pass order for doing complete justice in any matter pending before it.