India's dozen-plus lokayuktas have been pushing for uniformity in the lokayukta legislation across states for more than a decade, a demand whose fate was sealed on Tuesday when several parties forced the government to amend the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill.
The government had on Tuesday night moved an official amendment to its bill which ensures the central law will not be binding on the states till they give their consent.Nearly 20 states have lokayukta laws, but only a handful are considered to have been effective in addressing corruption in public life and addressing public grievances.
A former lokayukta said they had tried to address the absence of uniformity by persuading state governments to strengthen their respective laws.
But such efforts have not worked. For instance, when the Haryana assembly revisited its 1997 lokayukta law in 2002, it took away the anti-corruption watchdog's powers to take suo motu cognisance of allegations.
Not surprisingly, according to the lokayukta annual report for 2010-11, the watchdog can only take credit for transfer of one official of the food and civil supplies department.
An official at Madhya Pradesh's lokayukta institution - which hosted the 2010 All India Lokayuktas conference - said the lokayuktas had been pressing for a uniform law for nearly a decade.
The official, however, added this did not imply support for the version introduced by the Centre.
"The lokayuktas conference has already rejected attempts to make the lokayukta a multi-member body."
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam too had voiced the need to narrow the differences in 2004, offering to bring the President's office under the proposed ombudsman at the Centre.
Four years later, at a conference in Karnataka, the lokayuktas had asked then union home minister Shivraj Patil to push for a central lokayukta law and were told it would not be easy.