The Bihar government has decided to bring in a new law to lend more teeth to the institution of the Lokayukta, the anti-corruption watchdog that keeps tabs on public servants.
As per a rough proposal cleared by the state cabinet on Tuesday, the Lokayukta will be a three-member body headed by a chairperson. It will have the office of the chief minister within its ambit, as also its own investigation and prosecution wings.
The state government appeared to have accepted, in principle, several of the provisions contained in the draft Jan Lokayuka bill, sent by Team Anna to the chief minister's office, in response to a request.
The new law will require an amendment to the Bihar Lokayukta Act, 1973 under which the office of the Lokayukta vests in an individual. An amendment Bill for this purpose is likely to be brought during the winter session of the state legislature.
· Lokayukta chairperson or members should be of impeccable integrity, outstanding ability, having special knowledge of and professional experience of not less than 25 years in public affairs, administrative law and policy, academics, commerce and industry, law, finance or management.
· He should not be less than 55 years of age.
· The term of Lokayukta and members would be five years from the date of assuming office.
· Chief minister, former chief ministers, ministers, former ministers, legislators, former legislators, public servants, Assembly speaker and chairman of legislative council and government employees, employees of corporations or organizations receiving government grants would be under the purview of Lokayukta.
· The Governor may suspend the chairperson or any other member from office on grounds of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court, on a reference being made to it by the Governor.
· The chairperson or member shall be ineligible for re-appointment or further employment to any other office of profit under the government of India of the government of the state.
Announcing the decision, cabinet secretary Ravikant said that the provisions and necessary details on the proposed amendment to the Lokayukta Act has been put on the government website, inviting the people's suggestions and comments by November 22.
The cabinet secretary said the government would also solicit the views and opinions of recognized political parties, after which a group of ministers, to be appointed later, would vet the draft bill before it was tabled during the winter session of the legislature.
Under the new Lokayukta law, public servants, right from the chief minister to government employees, employees of organizations, corporations and bodies receiving government grants, were liable to investigations if complaints were genuine.
"The expenses on the office of Lokayukta would be met from charged expenditure, which could not be voted", Ravikant added.
Other cabinet decisions The cabinet, he said, also approved State Perspective and Implementation Plan of Rs 9,200.23 crore for financial years 2011-12 to 2021-2022. It is likely to benefit 1.5 crore BPL families in the state.
The cabinet sanctioned expenditure of Rs 2,652 crore and sought Rs 6,542 crore from the Centre under National Rural Livelihood Mission. Ravikant stated that the cabinet also approved the integration of UID project with E-shakti project, under which UID would only provide the number (identity). Demographic profile, iris and fingerprints would be provided by E-shakti.
In the first phase, 2.50 crore people would be provide these identity cards at an estimated cost of Rs 674.80 crore in the next five years. A pilot project of integrated UID and E-shakti projects has been already launched in Patna district.