Lokayukta Bill reintroduced in HP assembly to give more powers to ombudsman

North Gazette News/Dharamshala
Lokayukta Bill was on Wednesday reintroduced in HP assembly to put an effective Lokayukta system in place by giving power to the ombudsman to punish for contempt.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh reintroduced the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Bill, 2014 and said that the provision of power to punish for contempt was not available in the central Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013.

“As a policy of zero tolerance against corruption, 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, MLAs and public servants,” Singh said.

The bill, which will repeal the existing HP Lokayukta Bill of 1983, will further strengthen the existing legal and institutional mechanism.

Before the new bill was introduced, the assembly withdrew the Lokayukta bill which was introduced in the house on Feb 19 this year. 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 a chief justice of a high court.

As per the bill, 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 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.

The bill was referred to the select committee of vidhan sabha for consideration after it was placed in the assembly earlier.