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Supreme Court Issues Notice, Raises Questions On The Power Of State Lokayuktas

24 April 2021 8:01 AM GMT
Supreme Court Issues Notice, Raises Questions On The Power Of State Lokayuktas

In a Petition filed by the Office of Odisha Lokayukta, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has issued notice on 23rd of April and stayed two judgments of the Odisha High Court.

The petition arises out of a complaint made by Vigilance Cell Unit of Odisha to the Lokayukta Odisha against Dr. Pradeep Kumar Panigrahi, MLA, Gopalpur Assembly Constituency regarding possession of disproportionate assets and thereby intentionally enriching himself illicitly and other corrupt practices.

Vide the 1st impugned judgment dated 3rd of February 2021, the Hon'ble High Court set aside the direction issued by the Lokayukta to the Director of Vigilance to conduct a Preliminary Enquiry against Respondent No. 1 herein and directed the same to be conducted by the Inquiry Wing of the Lokayukta. Vide the 2nd impugned judgment dated 5th of April 2021, the Hon'ble High Court has dismissed a Review Petition filed by the Petitioner herein on the ground of locus standi of the Petitioner to file a Review Petition.

The Petition raises some important and substantial questions of law regarding the power of Lokayukta to conduct the preliminary enquiry and regarding the jurisdiction and autonomy of the office of the Lokayukta in matters of enquiry and investigation into complaints of corruption, as also regarding the locus standi of the office of Lokayukta to file a petition before the Hon'ble High Court.

The Lokayukta, Odisha has also contended that the basis of the High Court's order- that a complainant should not be the investigator in a case (in the present case, the Vigilance Unit of the State) – is contrary to a Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in Mukesh Kumar Singh's case.

The questions raised, when decided, will clarify a variety of issues regarding power of Lokayukta in various States in the Country.

Mr. Ravindra Shrivastava, Senior Advocate argued the matter before Supreme Court for the Lokayukta, Odisha. Petition has been filed by Mr. Arjun Garg, AOR and Partner at GSL Chambers.

About the Firm:

GSL Chambers is a Firm set up by Mr. Arjun Garg and Mr. Abhinav Shrivastava in the year 2019. GSL Chambers is a full-service law firm with an endeavour to provide efficient and bespoke legal services. We have an experienced and dedicated team of lawyers with excellent understanding of commerce and market and the nuances of each practice. The practice areas of the Firm vary from Dispute Resolution to Corporate and Commercial to Competition, Compliance & Auditing. Arjun Garg is an Advocate-on-Record having over 17 years of practice.

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