New-look Lokayukta Bill tabled in Assembly

SHILLONG: The Congress-led MUA-II Government on Friday introduced the new Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2014, in the state assembly, despite the demand from many pressure groups and anti-corruption bodies to put the new Lokayukta Bill in public domain to get the views of the people to make it more effective.

Talking to reporters, opposition members described the move to introduce the Bill as a “hurried one.” The Bill will be taken up for discussion on the last day of the session on March 19.A significant addition in the Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2014, is that even retired Meghalaya Chief Secretaries can be appointed as the Chairpersons of the Lokayukta. Moreover, any official who is or was at the rank of secretary to the Government of India is also eligible for the post.

It looked like the State Government was trying to make the Lokayukta a rehabilitation centre for the retired bureaucrats, opposition members said.

The Chapter 2 of the new Bill says that ‘a person who is/ has been a Chief Justice of the High Court or a Judge of the High Court or who is or has been an officer of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India or Chief Secretary of a State or an eminent person who has impeccable integrity and knowledge of anti-corruption policy for at least 25 years’ can be appointed as Chairperson.

Though the appointing authority of the Chairperson and members of Lokayukta is the Governor, the decision will have to be based on the recommendations of the selection committee which is headed by the Chief Minister as chairperson.

Other members of selection committee are Speaker of Assembly, Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice of High Court of Meghalaya or a Judge of the High Court nominated by him. Another member is an eminent person nominated by the Governor.

The selection committee headed by the Chief Minister will constitute a search committee to select a panel of names for Chairperson and members of Lokayukta. The search committee will have five members. However, there is no scope for the civil society members to be part of the selection committee or the search committee.

Earlier, Governor Dr. K.K. Paul, while addressing the House on the opening day of the Budget session, said that eradication of corruption at all levels will be the prime object of the state government.

“A new Lokayukta Bill, in conformity with the model Bill recommended by the Select Committee of the Parliament and based on extensive consultations held with various stakeholders is being brought to the Assembly during the current session”, he said.

However, according to the pressure groups, they are in the dark as to who were these stakeholders the Governor was referring to since the anti- corruption bodies in the State were never consulted by the State Government before introduction of the new Lokayukta Bill.

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