Himachal re-introduces bill for effective Lokayukta

Dharamsala : Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Wednesday re-introduced a bill to put an effective Lokayukta system in place by giving power to the ombudsman to punish for contempt.

Introducing the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Bill in the state assembly, the chief minister said the provision of power to punish for contempt is not available in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, passed by parliament.

Support TwoCircles

As a policy of zero tolerance against graft, the bill seeks to establish a more effective mechanism to receive complaints relating to allegations of corruption against public functionaries, including the chief minister, ministers, law-makers, and public servants, he said.

The bill, which aims to repeal the existing Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Bill of 1983, will further strengthen the existing legal and institutional mechanism, the chief minister said.

Before the bill was introduced, the assembly withdrew another Lokayukta bill which was introduced in the house Feb 19.

As per the new bill, Lokayukta jurisdiction will cover all categories of officials who have served with the affairs of the state. Even the former chief ministers and members of the legislative assembly will come within its purview.

The bill proposes one-member Lokayukta, who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court or the chief justice of a high court.

“The Lokayukta will constitute an inquiry wing headed by the director of inquiry for conducting preliminary probe into any offence committed by a public servant,” says the bill.

The prosecution wing, headed by the director of prosecution, after having been so directed by the Lokayukta, can file a case in a special court.

The bill gives powers to the ombudsman to conduct search and seize documents and provisional attachment of assets.

It will also empower the Lokayukta to recommend transfer or suspension of public servant facing allegations of corruption.