Amended Lokayukta Bill Passed In West Bengal Assembly, CM Under Purview Of 58 Out Of 59 Subjects
The West Bengal Assembly, on Thursday, passed the amended Lokayukta Bill, 2018, excluding the Chief Minister in matters related to the public order. which is one of the 59 subjects listed in the Bill, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
This passage of the Bill comes after the Supreme Court pointed out 11 states on not appointing an official to investigate graft cases. This amendment is parallel to the provisions of the Central Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013. As per Live Mint, West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee, said, “Even the Prime Minister has similar privileges, such as with matters relating to defence.”
On her exclusion from one subject, Banerjee said she is answerable only to the public of the State, and not to any politician.
According to the reports from NDTV, “Public Order” will consist of appointments of police officers and bureaucrats, recruitment of police, deployment of forces and any other emergency situations.
The Bill, however, allows Lokayukta to investigate Chief Minister on other provisions of 58 subjects under the Act, such as the allegation of corruption against the Chief Minister, “only with the permission of West Bengal Legislative Assembly, by a majority of two-third members present and voting.” The Bill mentions that the exclusion of the Chief Minister on public matters is in line with section 41 (1) (a) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas act, 2013, passed by the centre.
As NDTV reports, the opposition party comprising BJP, Congress and CPI(M), went against the passage of Bill and are alleging that efforts were being made to turn the Lokayukta into a “farce”.
The amendment in the West Bengal Lokayukta Act 2003, which was enacted by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Government, also invited criticism soon after the bill was circulated among MLAs “This is outrageous and hilarious. Why is Mamata Banerjee, the ’embodiment of honesty’, according to her acolytes, so afraid? Buddhababu wasn’t,” Left legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty said on Tuesday, Telegraph India reported.
The status of the Lokayukta bill in other states
- Maharashtra was the first state to introduce Lokayukta through The Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act in 1971. However, the Maharashtra Lokayukta Bill is the weakest due to its lack of powers, staff and funds.
- There are no Lokayuktas in Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland.
- The States like, Sikkim, Puducherry, Telangana and Tripura are waiting for President’s approval.
- Tamil Nadu has already passed the Bill.
- On July 09, 2018, Arunachal Pradesh passed the Bill.
- The Karnataka Lokayukta is considered to be the most powerful in the country.
- According to the reports from Live Mint, the Delhi Government had also passed the Jan Lokpal Bill in 2015. It gives powers to act against any Government functionary including CM. The Bill is still waiting for approval.
How Lokpal Bill came to light?
The following facts have been shared by PRS Legislative Research(PRS), India:-
- It all started in 1968 when the Bill was first introduced and put forth to the LokSabha. It was immediately passed in 1969. However, the House dissolved, and the Bill failed.
- In an attempt to survive further, the Legislation was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, and 2001 but failed to survive.
- Finally in 2004, under the rule of Congress-United Progressive Alliance (UPA), then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wasted no time in enacting the Bill.
- It was only in 2011 when Anna Hazare and his associates took a concrete stand which stirred the Government to present the Bill in Parliament.
- As a result, from 1968 to 2011, the Bill has been brought to Parliament under seven Prime Ministers beginning with Indira Gandhi in 1968.
- According to The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 1968, the Prime Minister and the Members of the Parliament (MPs) were excluded from the scrutiny of the Bill.