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House rejects bill to amend Lokayukta Act

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SHILLONG, Feb 20: The Voice of the People Party legislator from North Shillong constituency, Adelbert Nongrum on Tuesday introduced a private member’s bill to amend the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act. It failed to garner the support of the House and was rejected.
According to the statement of object and reasons of the bill, the Meghalaya Lokayukta (Amendment) Act of 2021 diluted the effective functioning of the institution of Lokayukta in the state as envisaged when the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act was enacted in 2014.
By allowing the option of a single-member body of just the chairperson, and without the mandatory appointment of judicial member(s) in what is statutorily a judicial body, the Amendment Act of 2021 practically weakened the role of the Lokayukta in the state, the bill said.
The Meghalaya Lokayukta Act (as amended) has been robbed of the essential provisions that were originally in place in 2014, having being incorporated from the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 and mirrored not just the objective but the provisions as well, it said.
The proposed amendment sought to fulfill the purpose of strengthening the institution of Lokayukta in the state, to effectively deal with cases of corruption by public functionaries, to re-enact the essential provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 that was deleted and substituted by the Meghalaya Lokayukta (Amendment) Act of 2021, and to amend the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act of 2014.
Moving the resolution to recommend the amendment of the provisions of the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act and effectively deal with cases of corruption by public functionaries, Nongrum said, “In Meghalaya, the battle against corruption has made people look to the only institution that has given us a ray of hope, and that institution is the Meghalaya Lokayukta.”
“In these few months though, we are seeing a threat to the administrative autonomy and independent functioning of the Lokayukta, and I believe there is much concern amongst the members in this august House that the institution of Lokayukta needs to be protected and strengthened,” he said.
He said the amendment to the Lokayukta Act done in 2021 diluted the effective functioning of the Lokayukta in the state, by making radical changes to the strength of the Lokayukta members and the composition of judicial benches. As a result, it no longer bears resemblance to what was originally in the principal enactment, he added.
According to Nongrum, by allowing only the chairperson to handle the statutory judicial body and without the mandatory appointment of judicial member(s), the Amendment Act of 2021 practically weakened the role of the Lokayukta in the state.
He said the private member’s bill he sought to introduce intended to protect and strengthen the institution of Lokayukta in the state, give it more teeth, and more effectiveness.
“What the people of the state are expecting from this august House today is a voice in support of Lokayukta and a voice against the virus of corruption,” he added.
The Assembly Speaker put the question before the House to pass or reject the bill and the ‘nays’ had it.

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