On an average 15 complaints are registered against public servants everyday with Lokayukta Maharashtra
Maharashtra was the first state in India to establish the Lokayukta in October 1972 to act as “Ombudsman” on complaints against public servants (Govt. officials and political representatives of the people). During the last 28 months, the office had disposed 12,237 out of 12,828 complaints, Recommending action in 114 cases; it was revealed in a reply to an Right to Information query by RTI Activist Anil Galgali. On an average 15 complaints are registered against public servants everyday with Lokayukta Maharashtra.
Anil Galgali had sought information on the complaints filed, disposed and pending with the Lokayukta and the Up-Lokayukta of Maharashtra between 1st November 2014 and 28th February 2017.
He was informed that 12,828 new complaints have been filed during the last 850 days. While 4,622 previously filed complaints were pending. A total of 12,237 complaints have been disposed, this figure includes even those complaints pending before the given date of 1st November 2014.
Revenue department leads the tally in matter of complaints filed with 3030 filed against its officials. Urban Development with 1936, Rural Development & Water Conservation with 1828, Home with 886, Public Health with 421, School Education & Sports with 409, Public Works with 332, Cooperation, Marketing & textile with 326, Water Resources with 325, Agriculture with 324 & Higher & Technical Education with 312 complaints -Follow in that order.
Interestingly, Lokayukta office has held back information in 5 cases under sec 12(3) of the Act, In which sharing of information publicly may cause danger to the life or well-being of the complainant. The office also does not have separate data on the Ministers, MP’s, MLA’s, Corporator and other elected representatives of the people. Lokayukta has found people to be unduly aggrieved by action of public servants in 114 cases and recommended action under section 12 (1) of the Lokayukta Act. In case the public servant is above the rank of secretary or Minister, Recommendations to initiate action are sent to the Chief Minister of state. In all other cases, Lokayukta can direct the concerned department to take steps to provide relief to the complainant and seek a report on the action taken, to be submitted to the Lokayukta office, within one month of the issuing of order.
Maharashtra was the first to enact the Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta Act in 1971, which is currently lead by Retd Judge M L Tahaliyani. Tahaliyani has presided over several high-profile trials, including the 26/11 attacks, Gulshan Kumar murder and the money laundering case involving businessman Hasan Ali.
A senior official on the ground of anonymity said, “Lokayukta is more of a symbolic institution and has no powers to investigate or act against errant public servants. It can only recommend action in such cases to the government.”
Galgali has written to CM Devendra Fadnavis requesting him to initiate early action on the recommendations of the Lokayukta, In 109 cases where the Lokayukta has held officials guilty of dereliction of duty. “Department inquiry must be held in each one of them, holding them responsible for their deeds,” he said.