Lokayukta to hear corruption cases against top Panchayati Raj functionaries

Shimla: By amending the HP Lokayukta Act (1983), lawmakers in Himachal have brought the top Panchayati Raj functionaries under the roving eye of Lokayukta (Ombudsman) for hearing complaints about corruption against them.

The new bill empowers the Lokayukta to hear complaints about corruption against chairperson and vice-chairperson of zila parishads ( district level bodies) and chairman and vice-chairman of block samithis (block committees).

Moved by chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, the HP Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2011 was passed by voice vote.

Earlier participating in the debate, legislator Rajesh Dharmani asked for including panchayat level functionaries which included pradhan’s and vice-pradhans of panchyats in the proposed new law.

He also suggested that since the Lokayukta was not easily accessible, to keep a check on corruption by panchayat functionaries, the government could consider setting up a separate ombudsman for Panchayati Raj Insititutions as they were about 3243 panchayats itself.

Though supporting the argument, the chief minister said that presently the Lokayukta needed to be strengthened before it could be given the task of hearing corruption complaints against pradhans and up-pradhans of panchayats.

The proposed amendment by Dharmani was deferred for another time and the bill was passed by the house with a voice vote.

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