Govt pushes through Lokayukta Bill

The ombudsman will not need govt permission for prosecuting senior officers

The legislation was passed even as the Opposition members vociferously demanded that the Lokayukta should have been given more teeth to nail corrupt people.

An assertive BJP introduced the Bill enhancing powers of the Lokayukta even as the Opposition continued its dharna and slogan-shouting in the legislature over illegal mining. In both the Houses, the bill was passed without discussion.

On July 9, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa announced a set of proposals to empower the Lokayukta institution. The State Cabinet approved the proposals Thursday.

Under the amended Act too, the Lokayukta has no suo motu powers to investigate the political establishment comprising the chief minister, ministers and legislators. However, he can act on a complaint. The JD(S) and the Congress has been demanding suo motu powers to the Lokayukta.

When the amendment bill was tabled in the Legislative Council, Opposition members claimed that the powers granted to the Lokayukta were insufficient. V R Sudarshan (Cong) questioned why the Lokayukta should have no powers to investigate against the CM, ministers and legislators. Y S V Datta (JD-S) said that the Chief Minister, ministers and legislators were “not gods.”

The amended Act empowers the Lokayukta to take action against chief secretary, additional chief secretary, principal secretary and secretary II. The Lokayukta has suo motu power to hold investigation, after recording his opinion, into the action taken by the public servants whose fixed pay, salary or remuneration of more than Rs 20,000 per month.

The Lokayukta may discharge the functions of the Upa Lokayukta when the latter office is vacant, and vice versa. A provision has also been made to enable the legal heirs of an aggrieved person to file a complaint or to pursue the complaint already made.

More importantly, the under the amended Act, the Lokayukta or the Upa Lokayukta may utilise the services of any officer or investigating agency of the State Government or the Central Government or any person or other agency during investigation. The amendment suggests that the Lokayukta can draft the CBI for investigation into any case that is being investigated. The Lokayukta or Upa Lokayukta, after making preliminary inquiry, is required to forward a copy of the complaint to the public servant and the competent authority concerned, to give an opportunity to offer his comments, before continuing investigation.

Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde, reacting to the passage of the amendment bill, said a little of what he had been demanding had been fulfilled. However, he was upset because the bill was passed without any debate. “I am against to passing any bill without a debate,” he said.

 

Following are the main provision of the other bills passed by the Legislature on Friday.

Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Bill 2010

- Provides for increasing the number of standing committees in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) from the present eight to 12.  Number of members in each committee increased to 11.

- These include - standing committees for taxation and finance, public health, town planning and improvement, major public works, ward level public works, accounts, education, social justice, appeals, horticulture, markets, establishment and administrative reforms.

Karnataka Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Bill 2010

- Already passed by the Council, the bill provides for enhancement of reservation for women from the present 35 to 50 per cent in all three tiers of panchayat raj institutions. 

- Provides for use of Electronic Voting Machines in elections to Gram Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat and Zilla Panchayat in the State.

Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation (Second Amendment) Bill 2010

- Provides for reduction of lifetime tax for construction equipment from 10 to six per cent

- Provides for payment of lifetime tax for construction equipment in two installments
Karnataka Private Medical Establishment (Amendment) Bill 2010

- Provides for extension of time prescribed for registration of existing private medical establishment by three months

Karnataka Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill 2010

- Amends the definition of director of survey settlement and land records to include the redesignated post of commissioner of survey settlement and land records.

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