No Lokayaukt, no human rights panel chief in Jharkhand

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Ranchi, July 31 (IANS) The BJP-AJSU government in Jharkhand has left thousands of complainants in the lurch by keeping the posts of Lokayukt and the chief of the State Human Rights Commission vacant for several months, said opposition parties.

“The government boasts it is fighting corruption while keeping the Lokayukt post vacant. It’s a government that’s only serving big industrialists and has left people to fend for themselves,” Alok Dubey, Jharkhand state Congress General Secretary, told IANS.

The Lokayukt post has been lying vacant since Justice Amreshwar Sahay completed his term four months ago. Till Sahay was in the saddle, people were able to register their complaints. No longer.

The opposition parties allege that keeping the post vacant is a deliberate ploy of the Raghubar Das government to avoid accountability for the cases of corruption within its ranks.

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Nor is the government interested in ending the long-term neglect of Lokayukta which needs more power and infrastructure to act effectively on complaints of corruption, said the opposition parties Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress, and the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajantrik (JVM-P).

The situation is the same at the state Human Rights Commission (SHRC), which is headless since January 2016 when the tenure of Narayan Rai came to an end. The entire process of registering of complaints and acting on them has since been adversely affected.

At both the Lokayukta and the SHRC, people are either not able to file their complaints or feel that there has been no action on their complaints.

Complaints cannot be forwarded also because there is no chairman to sign the covering letter, said a source in the SHRC where about 650 cases are pending.

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Public funds continue to be spent on an SHRC that has been virtually dysfunctional. Its staff received Rs 17 lakh in salaries in the current financial year so far from the state government, the source said.

A number of cases of violations of human rights have been reported in Jharkhand in recent weeks. If the SHRC had been functional, it could have taken suo motu cognizance of those cases or received complaints.

The victims now have nowhere to go.

In fact, the state’s minority commission has also been without a chairperson for more than six months. Several minority related issues cannot be addressed in the absence of the chairperson.

Dubey said keeping constitutional posts vacant showed the cavalier attitude of the state government, which is a coalition of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU).

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Pradeep Yadav, a JVM-P legislator, told IANS that the government led by Chief Minister Raghubar Das also has a tendency to concentrate power.

“There has been no decentralisation of powers to Panchayats. Das has not even deployed the full complement of 12 ministers. And ministers themselves have little freedom to function,” Yadav said.



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