Lokayukta had demanded ACB be brought under its ambit in May last year
Mumbai: Months before the state government tabled the Lokayukta Bill 2022 during the winter session of the State legislature, the Maharashtra Lokayukta had demanded the supervision of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to be brought under its ambit for effective action in corruption cases against public servants
Mumbai: Months before the state government tabled the Lokayukta Bill 2022 during the winter session of the State legislature, the Maharashtra Lokayukta had demanded the supervision of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to be brought under its ambit for effective action in corruption cases against public servants.
The Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta had written a letter to the Governor in May 2022, requesting him to direct the state government to amend the existing law.
In the letter, which was made part of the annual report tabled in the state legislature two weeks ago, the ombudsman had stressed the need for amendment in section 12 and 17 of the Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta Act 1971. It also stated that many government departments to whom they recommend action do not respond and thus the amendment was necessary to make the recommendations binding.
The Lokayukta also cited the examples of a few states like Karnataka, which has empowered the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta by amending laws.
Incidentally, after the letter, the government tabled a separate Lokayukta Bill to give more powers to the ombudsman to conduct investigation and prosecute the chief minister. The bill also empowers the Lokayukta to order an inquiry and prosecution under the Prevention of Anti-Corruption Act. The bill, however, comes with a rider as the inquiry against the chief minister requires the approval of two-third members of the Assembly. For inquiry against any minister, the approval from the governor is mandatory, while for the probe of any lawmaker, approval of the speaker of the Assembly is mandatory. However, the bill passed in the legislative assembly was deferred in the legislative council.
“Though the bill was brought in the winter session on the insistence of social activist Anna Hazare, the demand raised by the Lokayukta too was taken into consideration while drafting the bill. The governor had sent the letter written by Lokayukta to us,” an official from the law and judiciary department said.
Another official said that the powers given to the Lokayukta to order the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct a probe will help the ombudsman in investigating corruption cases more effectively.
“In the existing system, the Lokayukta recommends action to the respective departments and investigating agencies to conduct a probe. In 90% cases, the action is taken, but in some cases, if the government decides, it can withhold the action recommended. Open inquiries against ministers or senior officials are generally turned down by the government. If the ACB is brought under the purview of the Lokayukta, it will get more teeth,” he added.