With the state assembly earlier having passed the Lokayukta Bill, Himachal governor Kalyan Singh has forwarded the bill to President Pranab Mukherjee for approval after putting on record his reservations on a few clauses including those on contempt powers and sanction for prosecution for the ombudsman that he felt were at variance with the Criminal Procedure Code and other central laws.
The assembly passed the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Bill, 2014, which will bring all ministers including the chief minister as well as all government employees under the ambit of the ombudsman, on December 12 during its winter session held in Dharamsala.
The bill was earlier withdrawn after the opposition opposed it outside the house while Congress party legislator Asha Kumar demanded it be referred to a "select committee". The bill has proposed a one-member lokayukta who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court or chief justice of a high court. In the bill it had also been proposed that any person could remain in the office of Lokayukta for a period of five years or till attaining the age of 70 years.
Himachal Pradesh was among the first of the country's states to set up the institution of the lokayukta in 1983 thought it was not so effective since bureaucrats and politicians were out from the ambit of the ombudsman.
However, the lokayukta was not given powers of suo moto investigations while such powers were included in the bill introduced by the previous BJP government in 2012 which was later recalled.
The lokayukta shall be appointed by the governor on the recommendations of a four-member committee headed by the chief minister with the speaker of the assembly, leader of the opposition and chief justice of the high court as its other members
The lokayukta's office will have a separate prosecution wing
The lokayukta will be empowered to initiate action against those filing false complaints
The lokayukta will have powers to set up a body of inquiry to look into complaints against government employees
The lokayukta will have powers of the civil courts in dealing with certain cases