Lokayukta may get constitutional status

Lokayukta may get constitutional status

The ombudsman can probe only those cases involving ministers and legislators.

Disclosing this to Deccan Herald on Tuesday, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said a group of ministers has studied the proposed changes which will soon be placed before the Cabinet. Once passed by Parliament, the draft legislation will be sent to the states as constitutional changes require approval of the legislatures.

According to the proposed comprehensive changes, the institution of Lokayukta will be uniform across the country and made a three-member body. Across all states, the Lokayukta’s office will be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or high court chief justice and comprise the state vigilance commissioner and a jurist or an eminent administrator as other members.

A collegium consisting of the respective chief ministers, leaders of the Opposition and chief justices of the high courts will appoint all the three members. This will pave the way for scrapping the post of Upa Lokayukta. The proposed legislation will make it mandatory for states to establish the institution of Lokayukta.

As for wider powers for the institution, the GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, has taken cue from a conference of lokayuktas held some time ago and the report of the second Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Moily. The GoM proposal is that the proceedings before the Lokayukta should be treated as judicial proceedings investing it with the jurisdiction, power and authority to punish for contempt of itself as in a high court.

The jurisdiction of the ombudsman will extend only to cases of corruption involving ministers and legislators and it should not probe general public grievances.

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