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Himachal Assembly passes Lokayukta Bill

Last Updated: Friday, April 6, 2012 - 15:53

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Assembly Friday
passed the HP Lokayukta Bill, 2012, in the amended form with incorporation of an additional clause, empowering Lokayukta with powers of contempt of court at par with the High Court.

The passage of the Bill was smooth as the entire Congress
opposition which had staged a walkout during the question hour
did not participate in the debate.

Replying to the debate, Chief Minister PK Dhumal, who
had introduced the Bill in the house on Wednesday, asserted
that Himachal Lokayukta bill was "more strong and
constitutional" as compared to Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill.

Drawing a comparison between the Himachal and Uttarakhand
Bills, Dhumal said that the "Uttarakhand Bill is weak and has
not been given assent by the President so far due to some
legal hitches but our Bill is fully constitutional,
comprehensive and stronger".

The Uttarakhand Bill covers only the officers posted in
the state but Himachal Bill covers all officers, he added.

Referring to the suggestions of Khushi Ram Balnatah (BJP)
that societies and other registered bodies should also be
brought within the ambit of the Bill, the Chief Minister said
that it can be considered and notified later.

The Bill aimed at curbing corruption among public
servants covers all officials` right from Chief Minister to
Panchayat members and complaints could also be file against
the elected members of Panchayati Raj institutions and Urban
local bodies.

Besides the Lokayukta, who would be a retired Supreme
Court Judge of Chief Justice of High Court, there would be two
Up-lokayukts (deputy Lokayukta).

The Bill would replace the Lokayukta Act, 1983, which had
not been found to be effective, and bring the public servants
indulging in corruption to justice.

The power to initiate an enquiry against Chief Minister,
ministers, CPSs, MLAs and officers of the rank of Secretary
and above and heads of the Department would vest in Lokayukta
but no action would be initiated without the permission of
Full Bench of Lokayukta.

Further, the enquiry, investigations and prosecution shall continue in case the complainant dies and no complaint shall be allowed to be withdrawn unless the Lokayukta is fully satisfied that the complainant had made a bonafide mistake.
However, the prosecution sanction in case of the Chief
Minister would be accorded by the state Assembly, against MLAs
by the Speaker and against Ministers, officers of the rank of
secretary to the government and above and heads of the
department would be given by the Chief Minister.

The prosecution sanction against judicial officers would
be accorded by the high court.

A provision to keep the identity of "whistle blowers"
secret and providing them security has also been made while in
case of frivolous complaints a fine up to Rs 10 lakh and
imprisonment of one year has also been made and no complaint
would be allowed to be withdrawn unless the Lokayukta was
satisfied that these has been a "bonafide mistake".
The official amendment empowering the Lokayukta with
powers of contempt of Court on par with high court was carried
and the Bill was passed.

While the Congress members were not present in the house
only two BJP members Suresh Bharadwaj and Khushi ram Balnatah
participated in the debate and supported the Bill.

Later talking to media persons, the Congress members said
that they did not participate in the debate as the CLP leader
was not consulted before tabling the bill and no effort was
made to reach some consensus.

The bill is very weak and post of the powers vest in the
chief minister and the government, they said.


First Published: Friday, April 6, 2012 - 15:53
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