Lokayukta to improve transparency:CM

Bhubaneswar: A day after President Pranab Mukherjee gave assent to the Odisha Lokayukta Bill, 2014, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said it was his government’s “big step” towards transparency.

“I am glad that the President has given his assent to the Lokayukta Bill. As you know our state is a pioneer in bringing such a legislation. This is a big step towards transparency,” Patnaik told reporters here.

Seeking immediate appointment of Lokayukta, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress said: “I hope the chief minister will take steps to appoint a suitable person as the chairman of the Lokayukta.”

BJP Spokesman Suresh Pujari said that the post should go to a good hand in order to expect justice. Though there were several laws to curb corruption, all of them failed to give justice. There it all depend on the person who heads the Lokayukta, Pujari said.

The Odisha Legislative Assembly on February 14, 2014 had passed the Bill. “The Act empowers the Lokayukta to probe into graft charges against the incumbent as well as former chief ministers, ministers, MLAs, government officers, heads of panchayats and municipalities and trusts receiving government grants, said sources, adding that NGOs, contractors (firm or persons) and suppliers dealing with government money would also be covered by it,” said Odisha Law minister Arun Kumar Sahoo.

Sahoo said it would be six-members Lokayukta body.

The Lokayukta will have the powers of superintendence and direction over any agency or investigating agency, including the State vigilance or the crime branch of the police.

As per the provisions of the Act, the Chairperson of the Lokayukta will either be a sitting or former High Court judge whereas the body will consist of at least two judicial members.

Although the state earlier had Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 1995, it did not have the power to attach or confiscate properties of persons or organisations against whom prima facie corruption is established.

Under the present Act, the Lokayukta is empowered to attach properties of the guilty for a period of 90 days.

Lokayukta has now the authority to recommend the State government to transfer and suspend any public servant found guilty. Special courts will be set up for trial of such cases.

Chief Minister will head the Lokayukta selection committee while Speaker of Assembly and Leader of the Opposition, Chief Justice of Orissa High Court or a judge nominated by him and an eminent jurist nominated by the Governor will be the other member.