Assembly passes Lokayukta Bill; tough test for Shinde-Fadnavis govt in council
The state assembly on Wednesday passed the Lokayukta Bill that empowers the ombudsman to investigate graft charges against the incumbent chief minister
The state assembly on Wednesday passed the Lokayukta Bill that empowers the ombudsman to investigate graft charges against the incumbent chief minister.
Though the opposition leaders have demanded that the bill be sent to a joint committee, they had walked out of the house over the alleged scam in the teacher eligibility test when the bill was passed.
The Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government may find it tough to sail through the council where the government is not in majority. The bill is likely to be tabled in the upper house on Thursday.
Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The Bill has the provisions to prosecute the CM and ministers under the Prevention of Corruption Act. It will prove revolutionary.”
However, the Bill comes with riders. Under the provisions, an approval of two-third MLAs would be required to proceed against the CM, while in case of ministers a governor’s nod would be needed.
Further, the full five-member bench of Lokayukta can initiate the inquiry against the CM and it will be in-camera. Information related to the proceedings cannot be shared with the public or media, the provisions said.
Besides, the Lokayukta can act against corporators, members and heads of local bodies, and state government employees. The approval of the minister is mandatory for prosecuting elected representative of the local bodies and an inquiry against IAS, IPS officers will require the CM’s permission. A probe against lawmakers will need the nod from the presiding officer of the house he/she represents.
An official from Mantralaya said an approval of two-third MLAs would not be possible as it might lead to the collapse of the government. “Similarly, the permission to proceed against ministers, MLAs, and officials is difficult to get.”
One of 10 members of the Bill’s drafting committee said, “We discussed all aspects before coming to a conclusion. We felt the possibility of frivolous complaints if the powers to admit the complaints were given to the Lokayukta. Though an approval for the incumbent CM is unlikely, the provision can be effectively used once they vacate the chair,” he said.