File image of Lokayukta of Nagaland, Justice Uma Nath Singh. Image credit: Live Law

Anti-graft group Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation Nagaland called for a strong Lokayukta in the state.

It suggested some measures to enable the anti-corruption ombudsman organisation to serve its purpose.

In a release, the media cell of the group demanded that Nagaland Lokayukta Justice Uma Nath Singh be empowered to select the remaining Upa-Lokayukta of his choice to take on the difficult task of tackling corruption in the state.

It stated that the complete formation of Lokayukta in the state was yet to be done though it has been almost one year since it was set up.

The group said the Lokayukta must comprise composite police cadres from paramilitary forces, CBI and Assam Rifles to conduct covert operations and raids without any compromise.

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It said Nagaland, being a small and close-knit society in tackling corruption cases, is often compromised.

It also demanded revocation of the Nagaland Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill 2019, which was passed by the Nagaland Assembly on February 23.

The group said amendment gave overriding and sweeping powers to the Nagaland chief minister to selectively choose the corruption-related cases for exemption and investigation.

“By this act, the Lokayukata has been emasculated and defeats the very purpose it has been created for. This amendment must be revoked,” it said.

According to it, out of the four amendments made, the most important was the inclusion of Section 32-A which states: “In all cases where there are difficulties experienced in the implementation of this Act, provisions in this Act and the rules made thereunder shall be relaxed to the extent desirable by the Chief Minister”.

It said despite a huge amount of money sent by the Centre for development and uplift of the people, lakhs of Nagas are living below the poverty line with the average household living a hand-to-mouth life every day.

Corruption has totally ruined the socio-economic and the moral fabric of Naga society and the ill-gotten wealth is considered a blessing now, it said.

Noting that Nagaland lags far behind the rest of the country and other northeastern states, the anti-corruption group said corruption was deep-rooted and pervasive, crippling everything and becoming an accepted norm and a way of life.

The group said it was a fact that zero corruption is nearly impossible to achieve in Nagaland but added that drastic measures and zero tolerance to corruption may salvage Nagaland.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com