Uttarakhand Cabinet clears Lokayukta Bill

Dehradun: The Uttarakhand Cabinet on Saturday cleared a strong Lokayukta bringing in its net the post of Chief Minister, all ministers, MLAs and government servants, including IAS officers, with a provision of life imprisonment or more severe punishment.

While the lower judiciary will be covered under the Lokayukta, judges of the Uttarakhand High Court will not be under the purview of the Lokayukta.

At a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister B C Khanduri, it was decided to pass the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill, 2011, in the Assembly session on October 31 and November 1, official sources said here on Saturday.

Former chief ministers, former ministers and retired officers will also be within the purview of the Lokayukta.

The Lokayukta would consist of a chairperson and five members with a scope to increase the number to seven as per the need and requirement.

After completion of investigations, the chargesheet will be filed by the Lokayukta in a special court established under the Prevention of Corruption Act for a speedy trial, says the Bill.

The period of investigation, as far as possible, should not extend beyond twelve months, the Bill says.

After the completion of investigation in any case, the Lokayukta shall have the power to recommend punishment of dismissal, removal or demotion against government servants after giving them full opportunity of being heard.

The recommendation shall be binding on the appointing or disciplinary authority of the government.

For any act of corruption, the punishment shall not be less than six months of rigorous imprisonment and may extend upto imprisonment of ten years.

In the rarest of rare case, the punishment may extended upto life imprisonment.

The special court may take into consideration the higher rank of an accused person to impose a more severe punishment than life imprisonment, it said.

The bill envisages that the members of Lokayukta should have legal background and should be persons of impeccable integrity and outstanding ability and the chairperson an eminent public life with extraordinary ability.

The term of the chairperson of the Lokayukta would be of five years or upto the age of 70 years whichever is earlier.