Panaji: The state Lokayukta justice P K Misra has ordered Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to register FIR against the panchayat secretary and former acting sarpanch of Arpora panchayat for their involvement in the grant of NOC and house numbers for electricity and water connections to the illegal constructions in a paddy field.
The anti-corruption ombudsman has also directed the appropriate authority to take immediate steps to transfer the panchayat secretary who is deputed there since 2012 and initiate disciplinary proceedings.
“It is directed under Section 17 that FlR should be registered against the Panchayat Secretary and Respondent no 2 who was the acting sarpanch at the relevant time, under Section 13(1)(d) of Prevention Corruption Act and these persons along with any other person found to be involved should be
prosecuted under Section 13 (l)(d)(ii) of Prevention of Corruption Act after obtaining proper sanction,” the order reads.
The Lokayukta has also directed the additional director of panchayats to dispose of all matters pending in connection to this case as expeditiously as possible, preferably within 4 months.
It was a case wherein the Arpora panchayat secretary and acting sarpanch in connivance with the alleged violator issued him the certificate for obtaining water connection and gave separate house numbers to his illegal constructions which were built in the paddy field and had also FIR registered against him for illegal land filling.
The complainant who is the relative of the alleged violator Joseph Fernandes had also provided video recording of the conversation between him and acting sarpanch for admitting to have granted permission on the instruction of MLA Micheal Lobo, the voice which was denied of being his by the respondent.
The ACB, while undertaking such investigation, is required to take the voice sample of acting sarpanch and compare it, stated Lokayukta, adding the panchayat secretary and acting sarpanch without bothering to verify the legality of such structures and following proper rule granted NOC and trade licence.
But the respondents could not explain the Lokayukta of sudden change in attitude from describing structure legal as illegal.
The village panchayat later passed demolition order of such illegal structures.
However, the order was challenged by the violator Joseph Fernandes before the additional director of panchayats, which was ordered to maintain status quo without any further direction from the appellate authority.
The reason for pendency of the case was failure of the panchayat secretary and his absence from the regular hearing to defend the resolution passed by the panchayat for demolition which only showed he was hand in gloves with the alleged violator, said the Lokyukta.
Pointing out that the acting sarpanch and panchayat secretary committed offence under prevention of corruption Act, the Lokyukta said that the panchayat secretary and the acting sarpanch abused or misused their official position to confer illegal benefit.
However, the Lokyukta was surprised to find that in spite of pendency of such appeals, the panchayat secretary and acting sarpanch went step forward to issue no objection certificate to the alleged violator for electricity and water connections.
“It is not understood as to how such NOC could be given signed by panchayat secretary and acting sarpanch in respect of alleged illegal construction,” the Lokyukta noted.
The complainant has appealed the Lokyukta to direct ACB to register FIR and to investigate allegations made against the panchayat secretary, acting sarpanch for bypassing the rules and subverting the law to favour the alleged violator in construction of illegal shop and a house in Arpora.
“There is mystery surrounding grant of NOC. The panchayat resolution refers to
House No 96/3. However, the NOC signed by Panchayat Secretary and
acting sarpanch of Arpora panchayat Augustinho Dsouza relate to House No 96/3/A, 96/3/B and 96/3/C. There is no material on record as to show when was the house number 96/3 was alloted,” observes the Lokayukta.