Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav got Justice N K Mehrotra an extension of two years, nearly a week after he had completed his full-term as UP Lokayukta. Sharat Pradhan reports.
Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav apparently not only holds the remote control to his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, but can also exert enough pressure on the United Progressive Alliance government at the centre. This became clear in the manner he ensured a two-year extension to UP Lokayukta Justice N K Mehrotra.
A retired judge of the Allahabad high court, Mehrotra's six-year term as Lokayuktya had expired on March 16, a day after the Samajwadi Party government under Akhilesh Yadav was sworn in. However, in utter violation of all rules and bypassing all norms and conventions, Mulayam got Mehrotra an extension of two years, nearly a week after he had completed his full-term as Lokayukta.
Since the UP Lokayukta Act does not permit a second term to anyone, Mulayam sought to get the law amended by getting his son to pass a resolution for issue of an ordinance at the first meeting of his cabinet, shortly after it was sworn in. However, due to non-availability of state Governor B L Joshi who had left Lucknow well before the ordinance reached his office, the ordinance could not be issued by Raj Bhawan.
As per section 5 of the UP Lokayukta Act, after completing one term a Lokayukta cannot hold any other office under the state government -- be it directly under the government or any of its undertakings. Therefore, the only way that Mehrotra could have been favoured was through an amendment in the very act.
According to highly placed sources, Governor Joshi, who was away from March 15 evening, returned to Lucknow well after Mehrotra's term as Lokayukta expired. He was understood to have therefore expressed his reluctance in going out of his way to issue an ordinance to amend a law solely for the benefit of an individual. However, one call from Mulayam to a UPA bigwig led Joshi to readily give in to issuing the desired ordinance for extending the Lokayukta's term with retrospective effect from his date of retirement on March 16.
While Mehrotra's initial appointment as Lokayukta was made during Mulayam's last stint in 2006, he was known to have developed good relations with the Bahujan Samaj Party regime under Mayawati too.
In fact, Lokayukta institution remained quite dormant during the first four years of Mayawati rule, only to suddenly turn hyperactive when her regime was on its last legs in 2011-12. Mehriotra went about passing strictures against several corrupt ministers, many of whom were even promptly shown the door by Mayawati, and earned huge publicity on that account.
What surprised all was the spate of orders issued by the Lokayukta towards the fag end of his career. He even went to the extent of praising Mayawati for the swift action she initiated against everyone indicted by the Lokayukta. "The promptness with which UP chief minister ordered action against her ministers, found guilty of corrupt practices, clearly shows that she means business," Mehrotra then told reporters.
He had even gone to the extent of praising Mayawati, "I am sure there were hardly any past cases where a chief minster acted so swiftly against an important government functionary -- more so a minister -- indicted by the Lokayukta for indulging in corruption."
Evidently, Mehrotra was having the best of both worlds.