House passes Lokayukta Bill

HILLONG: In a significant move, the Meghalaya Assembly on Thursday passed the Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill 2014 after the Government brought an amendment to make the Act more effective and stronger to check the instances of corruption.

The Government brought out the amendment to do away with the provision of appointing an officer of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India or Chief Secretary of a State as Chairperson of Lokayukta as this had invoked criticism.

With the amendment, Lokayukta besides the members will consist of a “Chairperson, who is or has been a Chief Justice of the High Court or a Judge of the High Court or an eminent person who fulfils the eligibility of having impeccable integrity and knowledge of anti-corruption policy for at least 25 years”.

The eminent person should have “outstanding ability having special knowledge and expertise of not less than 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management”.

Earlier, Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma moved the Lokayukta Bill for consideration for passing after the amendment brought by the Government was incorporated. Later, the Bill was passed by the House.

The Opposition did not take part in any discussion on the matter after the Government brought out the amendment. The Congress-led MUA-II Government on March 7 introduced the new Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2014 and the new Bill would replace the old Bill that was termed weak by the anti graft groups. While introducing the Bill, the Chief Minister in the statement of object and reasons had said that the State Government agreed to have a new Lokayukta legislation on the line of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2013 by repealing the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act,2012. “The Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2012 was enacted for the purpose of providing for establishment of a body of Lokayukta for the State of Meghalaya. Meanwhile, the Government of India has advised to consider framing Lokayukta legislation on the line of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013”, Dr Sangma had said.

The new Bill as demanded by the pressure groups has a prosecution wing, and inquiry wing as well as provisions for special courts to hear and decide the cases arising out of the prevention of Corruption Act 1988.

Earlier, after the cabinet approved the new Bill and subsequently introduced in the House on March 7 , the anti graft groups expressed reservation about the Bill since they wanted the Government to put the Bill in public domain for discussions and deliberations before passing it in the Assembly.

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