Local Goa News

Friday, April 29, 2016

There’s a buzz in the Lokayukta’s office

Ombudsman’s team gets cracking as new incumbent takes charge; of 36 approved posts currently only nine personnel in office

PANJIM: After two-and-a-half years during which the office of the Lokayukta gathered dust, there is now a sudden buzz around the place, after Justice (Retd) Prafulla Kumar Misra was sworn in on Thursday as the State’s new Lokayukta.
Soon after the swearing in, Misra sat down to work along with member secretary Mathew Samuel, who was deputed to the office in March 2013 when the ombudsman body first became functional, with the appointment of Justice (Rtd) K Sudershan Reddy, who resigned six months later.
The State Guest House at Altinho, which wore almost deserted look since October 2013 when he resigned, is now set to attract attention again.
The team that sat with Misra first tabulated the cases depending on their status followed by a review of staff as the number of people working in the office has shrunk from 13 to nine, crippling the functioning. While the government had approved 36 posts, the current nine include three police personnel, a registrar, bench clerk and others.
As per the government order, a police inspector was to be posted at the Lokayukta office for investigation support, which has not been done.
“I need manpower to function. That is a priority. I am busy putting it in place now,” Misra said. Even as the first day in office went without much work, the second day on Friday began with the inspection of a building at Ribandar which is expected to be a permanent office of the Lokayukta.
Justice Misra, along with government officials, inspected the building and went through the proposed plan to modify it to suit the requirements of the Lokayukta. The building, besides having an office for the Lokayukta, will have a court where hearings will be held.
Back at State Guest House, the staff is busy prioritising cases. Samuel was seen meeting officials who have made a chart listing out the 22 pending cases. “During the time when there was no Lokayukta, we formed recruitment rules and also worked on the nitty gritty of this institution which is a new in the State,” a senior official said.
Modeled on Uttarakhand, Orissa and Karnataka Lokayuktas, the Goa Lokayukta now has guidelines in place. For instance, details of how to investigate cases have been put in place which will help the new Lokayukta work better and faster.
Despite a lull of almost two-and-a-half years, the Lokayukta office has often received applications under the Right to Information (RTI) and submissions of assets and liabilities by various public functionaries.
“We were processing the submissions. Till now 28 have submitted their details. We have kept the files ready for the new Lokayukta,” the official said.
While Justice Misra has been elevated from the post of Chairman Goa State Human Rights Commission to Lokayukta, there is one thing that has not changed for him, his residence.
It was sheer coincidence that Justice Misra was occupying the bungalow at Altinho which was designed for then Lokayukta Justice Reddy, who left the State. Since the bungalow was vacant it was allotted to Justice Misra as Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, and now there is no need for him to move residence.

Herald Goa News

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