By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Dec 5: The popularity of the Lokayukta in Assam is declining --- blame it on the lack of awareness regarding the ombudsman system or the infrastructural loopholes plaguing it. From 240 cases in 1992, the number of complaints received by the Lokayukta has come down to 38 last year. This despite the common perception that corruption is on the rise in the State.
This year, only 35 complaints were received by the Lokayukta's office. Most of the cases relate to grievances. Complaints regarding corruption are negligible.
The Lokayukta is empowered to investigate grievances and allegations against ministers, MLAs and other public servants, according to The Assam Lokayukta & Upa-Lokayukta Act, 1985.
Ironically, there has been no full-fledged Lokayukta in the State since the last ten years. The government says it is uble to find a suitable person for the post.
The Lokayukta is selected by a committee comprising the Chief Minister, Assembly Speaker, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court. Retired judges of Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts can be appointed as Lokayuktas. Upa-Lokayukta H Baruah is currently looking after the affairs.
Sources said that shortage of manpower, including those in the investigation wing, has also crippled the functioning of the organization. "Lack of wide publicity is another reason for the dwindling number of complaints. We have opened complaint cells in sixteen districts. Such cells will be opened in all the districts," said an official of the organization.
It is felt that instead of taking to the streets and resorting to bandhs and blockades, organizations fighting against corruption can lodge complaints with the Lokayukta for their redressal.