Meghalaya Lokayukta, Anti-Corruption Branch in limbo

Transparency mechanism fails in State

SHILLONG: With the much talked about Meghalaya Lokayukta yet to become a reality and the existing Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) turning non-functional, the State is deprived of a strong anti-corruption panel.
Sources said on March 26, 2014, the Governor had given assent to the amended Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2014, but two and half years later, no move was made either by the bureaucracy or the political masters to set up a vibrant Lokayukta.
Sources added that after the formation of ACB in 1996 under the State CID and monitored by the chief secretary as head of the State Vigilance Commission, no official was convicted despite having several pending cases.
The purpose of forming the Lokayukta was to probe the graft cases involving public servants and take action. This however, is now left to the state police in absence of an effective anti-graft panel.
The sources said the delay in the formation of Lokayukta will only help public servants as the Lokayukta Act stipulates that only cases which were reported within a span of seven years after its formation will be considered by the panel.
A chairman and four members constitute the full Meghalaya Lokayukta, but before the formation, the formalities include constitution of a search committee by the selection committee.
An official source on Sunday admitted that no meeting of the selection committee was held to name members for the search committee. The selection committee comprises the Chief Minister (chairman) and the Assembly Speaker, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Meghalaya or a Judge nominated by him, the Leader of the Opposition and the nominated member M.P Bezbaruah as members.
Sources pointed out that other than the state cabinet in June this year using a provision of the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act to ensure that public servants declare their assets and liabilities annually, there was no initiative by the Chief Minister, who is the chairman of the selection committee, to hold meetings to finalise the names of search committee members to find out suitable names to head the Lokayukta.
The task of the search committee is to suggest names to the selection committee. After getting suitable names from the search committee, ultimately it is the selection committee that will decide the appointment of the Chairperson and four members of the Lokayukta.
However, the Governor will give final approval to the Meghalaya Lokayukta.

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