Nagaland Lokayukta offers to resign, urges SC to direct state not to take any action against him

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New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) Nagaland Lokayukta Justice (retd) Uma Nath Singh Monday told the Supreme Court that he was willing to submit his resignation as head of the ombudsman as suggested by the top 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.

The factum of filing of the note, containing willingness of Justice Singh to resign, was brought to the notice of the bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde by senior advocate Vikas Singh, the counsel for the retired judge.

The bench, also comprising justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, had earlier asked the senior advocate to take instruction on the possibility of Lokayukta resigning from the post. “In terms of suggestion of this Hon'ble court, the respondent (Lokayukta) is willing to submit his resignation upon the dismissal of the writ petition (filed by the state government in the apex court) on the following terms and conditions,” the note said.

The apex court has now fixed the hearing on the plea of the Nagaland government, which has raised questions over the functioning of Lokayukta in the state, next week.

Justice Singh, the former Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court, 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 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 also urged the top court that nobody should be allowed to “tarnish the image” of Justice 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 said, adding that this would be needed for his “safe and graceful exit” after the resignation.

The ombudsman said he has “no objection” if a compromise is arrived at in a criminal case involving his one of the earlier personal security officer 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, has 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. PTI SJK ABA MNL RKS RKS