The Bill was passed after rigorous two day debate in the assembly
Sanjay Behera | February 15, 2014
While the 49 day old Kejriwal Delhi government came to a dramatic end as the Jan Lokpal bill proposal was defeated in the assembly by the Congress and the BJP, Odisha became the first state in country to enact a law for the creation of a Lokayukta Act. The law will probe corruption charges against the public functionaries, including the chief minister and other ministers.
However, vigilance and anti-corruption wing of the state government will not be under the superintendence and control of the Lokayukta.
Former chief minister, ministers, MLA, government officers, heads of panchayats, municipalities, trusts receiving government grants, supply and outsourced agencies have also been brought under its purview of investigation. A selection committee comprising chief minister, leader of opposition, speaker of the assembly, chief justice of the high court or any judge nominated will select the Lokayukta.
After two days of rigorous debate, the 14th assembly passed the Odisha Lokayukta Bill on Friday evening. The six member anti-graft body is to be headed by a chairperson, who is or has been a chief justice or judge of a high court. The Bill was passed unanimously in the assembly with the Odisha government accepting several amendments brought by the Congress members.
The Congress members including leader of the opposition and MLA Bhupinder Singh and Prasad Harichandan stressed that a robust fight against corruption cannot be launched unless the vigilance is not made independent and kept out of the control of the state government. Without vigilance under the Lokayukta, it can never be a strong anti-corruption watchdog and would remain toothless, they stated.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kalpataru Das, who piloted the Bill for chief minister Naveen Patnaik, said Lokayukta will go a long way to bring corruption under control. The minister accepted an amendment brought by Congress MLA Prasad Harichandan on the powers of the Lokayukta. The Lokayukta will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigating agency including vigilance and the crime branch relating the investigation ordered by it under the Act, Das said.
The state government will constitute many special courts, as recommended by the Lokayukta, to hear and decide the cases arising out of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, or under the Lokayukta Act. The trial of the cases will be completed within a year from the date of filing of the case.
The Lokayukta cannot investigate or inquire a case, if the complaint is made after the expiry of seven years from the date on which the offence was committed. It also cannot take up a case suo motto cognizance unless a complaint is made within the stipulated period of seven years.
The Lokayukta will constitute an inquiry wing headed by a director for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence by public servant brought before it. The Lokayukta will also constitute a prosecution wing headed by the director of prosecution who is or has been in the rank of director of public prosecution of the state. The state government will make available such number of officers and other staff are required by the Lokayukta will prosecution wing is constituted.
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