Completely “disenchanted” with the state government that has not acted on even one of the 21 reports submitted to it against the public functionaries during four-and-a-half years as Lokayukta, Justice Prafulla Kumar Misra (retd) left Goa on Monday.
“If you ask me in one sentence my experience in dealing with these complaints as Lokayukta in Goa, I will say they should abolish the institution of Lokayukta,” Justice Misra stated to the sources. “Why should public money be spent for nothing? If the Lokayukta Act is being thrown into the dustbin with such force, then it’s better to abolish the Lokayukta,” he added.
During his tenure, the office of the Lokayukta received 191 cases of which 133 were disposed of. Among the 58 pending cases 21 are the one in which he sent reports to the government, but the Action Taken Reports are still awaited. His recommendations included “initiation of disciplinary action, transfer, detailed investigation by ACB or a declaration that an elected functionary is unfit to hold office”.
A few months ago, Justice Misra had reportedly sent a report to the state government against the former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and two other senior officials in the Goa’s mining lease renewal case. However, the state government rejected his report that recommended an FIR be registered by the directorate of anti-corruption branch against Parsekar, former mines secretary Pawan Kumar Sain and former mines director Prasanna Kumar Acharya in the case. This was one of the strongest reports filed by Misra.
Justice Misra even wrote a letter to governor Satyapal Malik to prosecute the former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and two other senior officials in the Goa’s mining lease renewal case. However, they had “hastily cleared” 31 mining lease renewals in one day i.e. on 12th January 2015, the same day that an ordinance which made lease available only by auction was taking effect.
“Many cases (were) coming to Lokayukta where the police were not registering FIRs. For instance, in the Lalita Kumari case, the Goa Lokayukta ordered disciplinary inquiry against Calangute PI Nolasco Raposo for not registering an FIR in a theft case, even after the complainant submitted CCTV footage of the incident. In this case, the apex court had ruled that registration of an FIR is mandatory under Section 154 (cognizable offences) Code of Criminal Procedure,” Justice Misra asserted to the sources.
The Lokayukta Act needs urgent intervention. It “lacks teeth” in its current form, and is “not good enough for Goa”. It does not have the powers of prosecution that the Karnataka and Kerala Acts have, nor does it have a provision for contempt of the Lokayukta’s orders, Justice Misra said.
Further, Justice Misra recommended an ACB investigation against MLA Pandurang Madkaikar for disproportionate assets; and a probe into allegations that labour department dole for stranded migrants was being usurped by functionaries of the ruling party.
In another case, Justice Misra said a Cabinet minister was unfit to hold office. Further, he did not even spare the late Manohar Parrikar for “avoiding responsibility” in probing Madkaikar’s assets, as he was “serving as a minister and an MLA belonging to the ruling party”.
On Monday, Justice Misra (73) left his official residence in Goa for his native Odisha along with his wife Bharati, without any traditional farewell. He served as the Lokayukta of Goa from 18th March 2016 to 16th September 2020.