Shimla: In defiance of Team Anna’s insistence to adopt the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill, the Himachal government after incorporating suggestions from Himachal Lokayukta and other legal luminaries has modified the draft bill and later placed it before the cabinet today.
Law secretary AC Dogra said that modifications had been made to the Lokayukta draft bill after views of Justice LS Panta, Lokayukta Himachal and others were considered.
“Efforts have been made to make the bill as stringent as possible,” said Dogra.
Sources privy to the issue said that the modified bill was taken up at a cabinet meet and is likely to be presented in the house on tomorrow.
The proposed legislation is said to differ from the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill on some clauses by deliberately maintaining separation of investigation and adjudication powers with the office of Lokayukta, said the source.
Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal on Monday had debunked the earlier proposed draft bill of Himachal as ‘very weak and ineffective.’
“The bill seeks to provide illegitimate protection to corrupt people rather than punish them,” Kejriwal was quoted by the media.
A formal meeting of state officials to present the draft bill for Team Anna’s consideration at Delhi was called off after Kejriwal aired his views before the meeting could take place.
Though Himachal was one of the first states in the country to have enacted a Lokayukta Act in 1983, but the office has largely remained ceremonial, providing a post retirement placement for judges without having implicated any bureaucrat or politician for corruption.
“Then, it was called a model act,” says Dogra.
With Team Anna leading a civil society crusade against corruption, the state government after enacting a law providing for confiscation of property acquired through corrupt means had decided to take a re-look at the Lokayukta Bill by empowering the institution.
With chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal at first having solicited to incorporate Team Anna members in drafting of the new bill has since distanced himself saying that the government would not succumb to any pressure.