NEW DELHI: Exasperated by the “unjust and arbitrary” personal demands of Lokayukta Justice Uma Nath Singh (retired), who was to act as a ‘watchdog’ against corruption among political executives, the Nagaland government on Friday took the unprecedented step of requesting the Supreme Court to divest him of all powers. Justice Singh had retired as chief justice of Meghalaya HC.
Nagaland advocate general K N Balgopal urged the bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian to entrust all pending cases to Upa-Lokayukta Mayang Lima. The bench sought the Lokayukta’s response in two weeks but not before asking Balgopal whether the state government, which had appointed Justice Singh as Lokayukta in February last year, and the assembly were powerless in reining him in.
Trouble started within two months of getting appointed as Justice Singh sought permission to take up arbitration work in Synergy Ispat Pvt Ltd vs Barbara Elizabeth Simoes case despite clear prohibition for Lokayukta to take up any work other than those related to the statutory position occupied by him.
In May last year, Justice Singh wrote a letter to the government saying he would function “online” from Delhi and even “engineered” a letter from the state chief secretary’s office, without the incumbent’s knowledge, to that effect. As the chief secretary withdrew the purported letter and ordered an inquiry as to how the permission letter came into existence, the Lokayukta wreaked vengeance by harassing “honest officers” by issuing indiscriminate notices, the state claimed.
He demanded that the Kohima commissioner of police be present to receive and see him off at the airport every time. He also sought deployment of Army personnel for his protection. Balgopal said Justice Singh demanded allocation of the CM’s old bungalow as his residence. He then demanded that his photograph be displayed on government websites along with that of the governor and the CM. Justice Singh has courted many controversies in the past.