Meghalaya to move new Lokayukta bill in ongoing session

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 16:00 hrs

Shillong, Dec 11 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Tuesday said that a new Lokayukta Bill would be introduced in the current winter session of the state assembly to replace the existing 2002 law.

"The draft bill is being fine-tuned, as some of the points need clarity, and would be brought to the cabinet day after tomorrow (Thursday.) It can be then introduced in the current session of the assembly," Sangma told journalists after a cabinet meeting here.

The proposed bill provides for bringing the Chief Minster's Office, all the legislators and officials from top to bottom rung under the purview of the new Lokayukta.

Sangma was forced to convene a cabinet meeting after the day's session following 19 social organisations launching a sit-in-demonstration Tuesday demanding repeal of the existing Lokayukta Act and its replacement with a stronger bill on the lines of the ombudsman in Uttarakhand.

The chief minister said his government is serious in tackling the issues of corruption in Meghalaya and was therefore trying to bring in the new legislation.

"However, we want an effective law to fight corruption and so we are minutely studying all the details of the new draft Bill," he added.

Meghalaya Right to Information Movement (MRTIM) chief Michael Syiem, who was leading the sit-in-demonstration, said they wanted the government to either amend or repeal the existing act "since in the present form, it is toothless and anti-people".

Under the present law, the Lokayukta is an authority with merely investigating and recommendatory powers and no powers to initiate investigation and prosecute or punish corrupt public servants, Syiem told IANS.

The ombudsman also lacks financial, judicial and administrative independence, he added.

"The chief minister is exempted from the purview of Lokayukta and no grievances against ministers, legislators and high-level bureaucracy could be entertained by this body," he said.

"This act makes it difficult for citizens to file complaints... the law also puts the life and liberty of the complainant in danger by disclosing his name to the accused public servant," Syiem said.

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