STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
New Delhi, 11 October
Refusing to close a case against chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, and PWD Minister, Raj Kumar Chauhan, Delhi Lokayukta, Manmohan Sarin today sought review of a decision by President Pranab Mukherjee to reject its recommendation to administer "caution" to them for publishing their photographs on a loan form last year.
In a special report to the President, Lokayukta Justice Sarin pushed for administering "caution" and issuance of "advisory" to Dikshit and Chouhan holding that they had taken the decision to print their photographs on the loan applications of the Dilli Swarojgar Yojna.
Acting on President’s views following recommendation by the Lokayukta in the case, the Centre last month had issued an advisory to Delhi government’s Department of Welfare for SC/ST/OBC and minority community asking it to be "careful" while publicising their policies.
In a letter to Lokayukta, the Home Ministry had conveyed that the President has decided that there was no need to put photographs of the Chief Minister and Minister-in-charge on loan applications. The President, however, did not agree with Lokayukta’s recommendation for administering caution to Dikshit and Chouhan.
Seeking review of the decision by the President, the Lokayukta said "it would not be fair and just" to issue advisory to junior officials in the concerned department for no fault of theirs. He said the role of Dikshit and Chouhan in the case was "duly established".
"The Special Report was submitted because officials of the department have been cautioned for no fault of theirs, especially when the decision to print the photographs had been taken personally by Raj Kumar Chauhan with the approval of Sheila Dikshit.
"In fact, the officers had prepared a draft of the loan application form without the photographs but the minister instructed that the application form be printed with the photographs," said the Lokayukta.
The Lokayukta said if the President was not in agreement with his views, then the special report should be tabled in the Delhi Assembly as per provision of the Delhi Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta Act.
The Lokayukta on 6 May had recommended to the President to issue an "advisory" and administer "caution" to Dikshit and Chauhan asking them to desist from publication of their photographs on the form offering loan at low rates to entrepreneurs from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.
The order by Justice Sarin had come in response to a complaint filed last year by BJP leader, Harsh Vardhan who objected to publication of the photographs on the loan form, saying it was aimed at getting "undue political gain" from intended beneficiaries.
The Lokayukta had also recommended to Mukherjee that a direction be issued to the city government to frame appropriate guidelines for issuance of advertisements, hoardings etc featuring photographs of public functionaries.
Delhi government had launched Dilli Swarojgar Yojna in September last year under which youths from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities were to be given loan of up to Rs 5 lakh.
The forms distributed for availing the loan carried photographs of Dikshit as well as Chouhan who is in-charge of the SC, ST department.
Harshvardhan had alleged that putting photographs of Dikshit and Chouhan on the form was against "laid-down norms". The BJP leader, in his petition, had said that in view of the impending elections, publication of the photographs was an attempt to woo voters.
In his order, Justice Sarin criticised the government for deciding to print photographs of Dikshit and Chouhan on the loan form and said the only purpose for putting the pictures was to glorify and develop a personality cult for the two.