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Lokayukta Act gathers dust

No anti-graft panel in sight in Meghalaya

SHILLONG: Despite the recent claim by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma that Lokayukta will help to deter corruption, the Act passed by the Assembly in this regard two-and-a-half years ago has remained in files as the Meghalaya Lokayukta is yet to become a reality.
An official source said on Saturday that no further follow-up was made after the Act came into existence in 2014.
It was in June this year that the Cabinet had banked on a provision of Meghalaya Lokayukta Act to make sure that public servants declare their assets and liabilities every year.
However, sources said the State government is yet to set up a fully functional Lokayukta to probe corruption cases against public servants and to fix responsibility.
Currently, the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of CID is probing corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1998, but there was not a single conviction case after it was set up in the State.
After the Supreme Court in March this year declared that an eminent person can become the Chairperson of Meghalaya Lokayukta, the State government had made no move to speed up the process of setting up the Lokayukta, the sources added.
Earlier, the issue of any eminent person heading the Lokayukta was objected by the High Court of Meghalaya.
According to sources, though a selection committee was formed to constitute a search panel, the former is yet to hold a meeting to select the names for the search committee.
The chairperson of the selection committee is the chief minister and the members are the Assembly Speaker, Chief Justice of the High Court of Meghalaya or a Judge nominated by him, Leader of the Opposition and nominated member M.P Bezbaruah. Sources said if only the section committee meets regularly, the search committee can be constituted.
The role of the search committee is to recommend suitable names before the selection committee for the formation of the Lokayukta.       After due process, the selection committee will decide the Chairperson and four members from among the names recommended by the search committee to make Lokayukta fully functional. The final nod will be given by the Governor after getting the recommendation from the selection committee.
The Meghalaya Governor had given assent to the amended Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2014, on March 26, 2014.
The Act states that the chairperson of the Lokayukta will be an individual 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 an impeccable integrity and knowledge of the anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management for at least 25 years.
While the term of the Chairman and four members is five years, they can remain in office till the age of 70 as per the Lokayukta Act. The minimum age of the Chairperson and the members should be 45 years.

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