Justice Sanjay Misra was appointed as the Uttar Pradesh State Lokayukta under section 3 of the Act, 1975 vide order dated 29.01.2016 and on his joining on the said post on 31.01.2016 he was allotted House No.22 in the Government Colony, Gautam Palli at Lucknow, which on his request, was changed vide order dated 08.06.2016 and in its place he was allotted another House bearing No. 21 of the same category situated in the same colony, free of rent. However, on 03.12.2017, the impugned order was passed under the signatures of the Special Secretary and State Officer of the Government of U.P. cancelling the earlier allotment and in its place allotting another accommodation of a lower category.
Whether this petition is sustainable in view of the provisions contained in Section 5(v) of the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta Act,1975 read with Rule 10 of the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1981 and/or the provisions contained in the Act,2016 and the Rules,2016 specially Rule 22 thereof?
The Allahabad HC strongly criticized the Uttar Pradesh Government for the cancellation of a Type-VI accommodation to the Lokayukta and, instead allotting him a Type-V accommodation.
Senior Advocate Jaideep Narain Mathur, appearing on behalf of the Petitioner, argued that the Lokayukta is entitled to the same benefits and facilities as the Chief Justice of the High Court. The cancellation of a Type-VI accommodation clearly violates Section 5(v) of the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayukta Act, 1975 and such order passed by the state is a blatant attempt by it to belittle the office of the Lokayukta.
The state argued that the status of the Lokayukta was akin to that of Chairman/Member of statutory Commission under the State Government, he was only entitled to a Type-V accommodation but since earlier he was allocated a Type-VI accommodation, an order was passed to rectify the error.
The bench comprising Jusctice Devendra Kumar Arora and Justice Rajan Roy rejected the argument of the state and held that the Lokayukta is entitled to rent-free furnished (Type-VI) official accommodation just like the high court judges.
The bench said that “the fact that as per section 3 of the Act,1975 the appointment of a Lokayukta is to be made after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Assembly etc. itself goes to show the importance attached to the Office. The bench added that the Lokayukta is function as sentinels to ensure a corruption free Administration.”
The bench added “Even at the cost of repetition we may again point out that in view of the provision to section 5(5), the conditions of service of Lokayukta cannot be altered to his disadvantage after his appointment. Any attempt in this regard by the State would be fraught with serious consequences considering the sensitivity attached to the office as also its independence and impartiality by the statute itself.”
The bench put these questions to be pondered over by the highest functionaries of the State and to decide for themselves-“Is it because of the sensitive nature of the duties performed by the Lokayukta? Is it an attempt to belittle and humiliate the incumbent of the august Office? Does it behove the State Government to treat the Lokayukta in such a casual and irresponsible manner?”