Amended Lokayukta Bill passed; Mukul assures more changes

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: It will take time for the implementation of an effective system to check corruption in Meghalaya as the Meghalaya Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2013 which was passed on Thursday in Assembly, will be further amended.

Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma assured the House that though the Bill was passed, this will be brought back again in the House for debate and further amendment to make it more effective as suggested by the legislators.

It was in December last year that the Government had hurriedly passed a defective Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2012 which, however, did not get the assent of Governor RS Mooshahary since he wanted certain amendments to be included.

Though the amendments as suggested by the Governor were adopted in the House on Thursday, with defects still existing in the bill, the Opposition members wanted further debate on the matter before framing an effective Lokayukta Act.

Moving a point of order, James K Sangma (NPP) questioned the validity of the bill by saying that since the 8th Assembly which passed the Bill in 2012 was dissolved, a new bill needs to be introduced.

“A pending bill will not have any validity once the Assembly is dissolved,” he added.

However, Speaker AT Mondal said that since the Governor did not give assent to the Bill and instead suggested amendments, the pending Bill does not lapse.

The NPP member pointed out that since the Bill is shoddy, it should not be passed in a hurry.

Paul Lyngdoh (UDP) said that it is very disheartening to see that the points raised by the legislators in the last Assembly session were not taken into account whereas the amendments suggested by the Governor were incorporated. “Governor is only part of Executive whereas the points raised by the duly elected members should have been taken into account,” Lyngdoh said.

He also pointed out that deformities and defects have been carried forward in the current Bill.

Sangma wanted an assurance from the Chief Minister regarding bringing back the Bill for further discussion in the next session.

In his reply, the Chief Minister said that the Government is passing the Meghalaya Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2013, after adopting the amendments suggested by the Governor which is mandatory.

“The intention of the Government is also to further strengthen the bill. We will have to come back to the House by proposing amendments which can be adopted in the House,” the Chief Minister said.

According to the Chief Minister, the Government is committed to further amend the Bill.

Dr Sangma also said he had a meeting with members of civil societies regarding a strong Lokayukta on Wednesday.

“Though the current Bill has been passed, I assure the House that in the next session, the Bill will be brought back for further amendment as the intention of the Government is to have a strong Lokayukta,” he said.