The Lokayukta (amendment) bill will be passed in the upcoming legislative session to empower the ombudsman against corruption, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Saturday during the launch of a watchdog, Voice of the Indian Taxpayers (VIT), spearheaded by former AAP leader Anjali Damania.
He said that Lokayukta ML Tahaliyani was working on draft of the bill.
“Maharashtra is the first state to pass the Lokayukta Act. However, Lokayukta does not have powers. Justice Tahaliyani is working on the draft. We are going to give powers to Lokayukta. The Lokayukta bill will be passed in coming session,” Fadnavis said.
Asserting that his government was combating corruption at all levels, Fadnavis said that corruption cannot be rooted out unless mindset of people is changed. He demanded systematic intervention in government functioning and audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to bring positive changes. Fadnavis agreed to Damania’s request to allow the VIT to work closely with the state government.
Damania has brought several irregularities in various projects especially irrigation projects and Maharashtra Sadan construction. Fadnavis’s presence in the event raised eyebrows from some quarters as Damania has made serious allegation against BJP leaders, including Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari in the past.
Fadnavis also expressed his displeasure over current ways of auditing by the CAG and related agencies as ill-gotten money in few scams could not be brought back to the state coffers.
“We had seen scams related to 2G, Commonwealth, which were brought out by the CAG. Some were punished but the looted money could not be brought back. We have found that Public Account Committee examined 2012 report in 2016. It defeats the purpose.”
Santosh Hegde, former Karnataka Lokayukt and former justice of the Supreme Court, launched the VIT.