With Uttarakhand set to become the first state to implement social activist Anna Hazare’s version of the anti-graft watchdog, three other non-Congress ruled states — Bihar, Orissa and Punjab — are in touch with Team Anna for overhauling their Lokayukta institutions.
Barely four months before the assembly elections, Uttara-khand on Tuesday is likely to become the first state in the country to have a provision of life imprisonment for those found guilty of corruption. It will also bring the lower judiciary under the ambit of the Lokayukta.
The state BJP government has convened a two-day special session on Monday and Tuesday to pass the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill, 2011, drafted by social activist Anna Hazare’s team, which will replace the existing mechanism in the hill state. “We are in touch with at least three other state governments (Bihar, Orissa and Punjab), which have shown interest in our version of the Jan Lokpal Bill,” said a Team Anna member.
In Uttarakhand, the bill approved by the state cabinet on Saturday, provides sweeping powers to the proposed five-member Lokayukta, including separate investigation and prosecution wings. All public servants, including the chief minister, have been brought under its purview.
“For any act of corruption, the punishment shall not be less than six months of rigorous imprisonment and may extend up to imprisonment of 10 years. In the rarest of rare case, the punishment may extend up to imprisonment for life,” the bill states.
The special court may take into consideration the higher rank of an accused person to inflict a more severe punishment. In an unprecedented move, the Khanduri government has decided to bring the entire lower judiciary under the Lokayukta’s purview. But it has exempted high court judges.