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Saturday, 10 December 2011

House panel wants CMs under lokayukta

Chief ministers should be brought under the purview of anti-graft lokayukytas in all the states since their position is not identical to that of the prime minister, according to a key recommendation of the parliamentary panel examining the Lokpal Bill.

The parliamentary standing

committee on law and justice, headed by Abhishek Singhvi, has concluded that in case a situation arises where a chief minister is forced to step down on charges of corruption, it would not lead to any constitutional crisis unlike at the Centre.

"The committee believes that the position of the chief minister is not identical to that of the prime minister. The arguments for preventing instability and those relating to national security or the image of the country do not apply in case of a chief minister," the draft report said.

The panel has also recommended that the lokayuktas should be given power to recommend action against ministers, MLAs and the chief minister found guilty of involvement in an act of corruption.

“The competent authority to take action against the minister would be the CM, against the MLA it would be the presiding officer of the House (Vidhan Sabha or Vidhan Parishad) and for the CM it would be the governor," says the report.

Currently, lokayuktas exist in 17 of the 28 states and this year has seen a direct confrontation between the anti-graft watchdogs and state governments of Gujarat and Karnataka.

Keeping this in mind, the panel has asked the Centre to expand the scope of the Lokpal Bill and lay down uniform standards for appointment of lokayuktas in states. The panel pointed out that even in states where lokayuktas existed, "There had been examples of the post lying vacant for periods ranging from two months to eight years."

Justice Manmohan Sarin, the lokayukta of Delhi, had demanded more powers for the anti-graft watchdogs in states, saying the institution had been reduced to a "toothless" tiger.

"Lokayuktas can do no more than name and shame. There is an urgent need to bring uniformity in the appointments and powers of lokayuktas in all the states.”

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