Himachal to frame law for confiscating graft property

Shimla: Getting tough on corruption, lawmakers in the monsoon session would have to take a call about making a law for confiscating illegally acquired property as the government intends to move a bill to the effect.

Sources in the home department disclosed that to plug the loopholes in Prevention of Corruption Act that has left the question disproportionate assets open ended, the proposed legislation would include a stringent clause permitting confiscation of illegally acquired wealth by public servants.

“The moot point under discussion,” said the source “is whether a politician would be covered under the proposed law because by definition ministers and legislators also come under the ambit of public servants.”

The Bihar government has already passed a law for confiscating property acquired through corrupt means and several properties seized under this provision have been put to public use by starting school classes in some of them.

The proposed legislation would be in tune with the Bihar law as it was even upheld by the Supreme Court, recently, he added.

There is no provision for confiscation of property under Prevention of Corruption Act,” says Anil Chauhan, a lawyer adding, and the Lokayukta, which is only a recommendatory body, by itself cannot take any action in graft cases.

Only in the budget session in March, the assembly had amended the HP Lokayukta Act 1983 and brought top panchayat functionaries, barring the village level pradhan’s and vice-pradhans, under the purview of the Lokayukta for recommending action against corruption cases tried before it.

Says Chauhan, though the state enacted the anti-corruption ombudsman law almost three decades ago but largely the institution has remained defunct and failed to effectively deal with corruption.

“It is only by empowering the judiciary with a law to confiscate ill-gotten wealth that some check can be put on corruption,” he said.

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