Uttarakhand assembly passes Lokayukta Bill
After a marathon discussion, the House passed the Uttararakhand Lokayukta Bill, 2011, unanimously. Chief Minister B C Khanduri said the Bill will go a long way in the fight against corruption. Soon after being sworn in on September 11, Khanduri had vowed to set up the strong lokayukta within two months.
While the lower judiciary will be covered under the Lokayukta, judges of the Uttarakhand High Court will not be under the purview of the anti-corruption ombudsman which is a mixture of Lokpal draft of Anna Hazare and others. Former chief ministers, former ministers and retired officers will also be under the purview of the Lokayukta.
The Lokayukta would consist of a chairperson and five members with a scope of increasing the number to seven as per the need and requirement. However, consent of all the members is needed to initiate investigations. The Bill envisages that the members of the Lokayukta should have legal background and should be persons of impeccable integrity and outstanding ability and chairperson of eminence in public life with extraordinary ability.
The term of the chairperson of the Lokayukta would be of five years or upto the age of 70 years which ever is earlier. After completion of investigations, the chargesheet will be filed by the Lokayukta in a special court established under the Prevention of Corruption Act for speedy trial.
The period of investigation as far as possible should not extend beyond twelve months, the bill said. After the completion of investigation in any case, the Lokayukta shall have the power to recommend punishment of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank against government servants after giving them full opportunities of being heard.
The recommendation shall be binding on the appointing or disciplinary authority of the government. For any act of corruption, the punishment shall not be less than six months of rigorous imprisonment and may extend upto the imprisonment of ten years.
In the rarest of rare case, the punishment may be extended upto life imprisonment. The special court may take into consideration the higher rank of an accused person to inflict a more severe punishment than the life imprisonment, the Bill said.