Centre in favour of Lokayukta law: Maha CM

Mumbai: Pushing for a strong Lokayukta Act, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today said the Centre is in favour of enacting a model law for an anti- corruption ombudsman so that it can be replicated by all the states.

Chavan said his government was in the process of conducting comparative studies of Lokayukta Acts of various states and would take a decision on enacting the same only if its provisions are not included in the Centre`s proposed Lokpal Bill.

Addressing a press conference after an hour-long meeting with anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare, the chief minister said the Lokpal Bill was likely to be passed in the current Budget session of Parliament.

"I feel that the Lokayukta aspect will not be included in the Lokpal Bill. I had written to Centre to enact a model law of Lokayukta so that all states can adopt their own act as per the model law," he said, adding the Centre was favourable to this proposal.

"However if the model law also does not come out, we will begin the process of enacting a strong Lokayukta here," he said, adding that the state was studying the Karnataka and Uttarakhand acts, the Jan Lokayukta draft of Hazare and will compare them with its own act.

Hazare said the institution of Lokayukta in Maharashtra should be an autonomous body like the Election Commission and free from government interference.

When asked about his meeting with the 75-year-old Gandhian, Chavan described it as "cordial". "Anna has given me another draft of his bill today," he said.

The chief minister further said he would discuss the issue with the union law minister during his next visit to Delhi. "Anna requested me to enact a strong Lokayukta Act as the present one is toothless. According to him the existing provisions are only recommendatory and not obligatory. we broadly agree with him and feel that a strong anti corruption law is necessary," Chavan said.

Chavan said he views Hazare`s tour of 35 districts of the state beginning from May 1 as a mass awareness campaign and not as an agitation against government.