Activists from Arappor Iyakkam and other organisations, who were protesting in front of the Secretariat on Monday, against the Assembly passing the Lokayukta Bill, were detained by the Chennai police on Monday.
Nakkeeran Pugazhendhi, the treasurer, and Jayaram Venkatesan, the Convenor of Arappor Iyakkam led the protests in front of the Secretariat on Monday.
Speaking to TNM, Nakkeeran confirmed that the activists were detained, and said, “We want the government to conduct a public consultation on this Bill and, hence, came here to protest, to draw attention to our demands. The police have detained us in a marriage hall in Old Washermanpet as of now. We are not sure of the charges as yet. We do not want the Bill to be passed without a public consultation and a debate in the Assembly.”
The Lokayukta Act was notified by the Central government in 2014 and Section 63 of the Act provides a year’s time to the states to form a Lokayukta. According to this deadline, the states must have constituted its own Lokayukta by 2015.
A case was later filed in the Madras High Court over the delay and the Supreme Court ordered the states to report the progress made on the formation of Lokayukta by July 10.
Based on this Arappor Iyakkam, a Chennai-based NGO working on civic activism and anti-corruption had urged the public to send messages to the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar to conduct a public consultation on the Bill.
“The government is planning to introduce the Bill in the Assembly on Monday and pass it without any debate. It is important to conduct a public consultation on this Bill because Lokayukta is designed to act as an autonomous anti-corruption body. The TN government has given many reasons to not pass the Lokayukta Bill till date,” Jayaram Venkatesan, the convenor of Arappor Iyakkam had earlier told TNM.
He had also said that the Supreme Court had only asked the states to file a progress report by July 10 and not pass the Bill by that date.
He had asked then, “Lokayukta will serve as an independent investigative authority that probes corruption complaints on elected representatives from the panchayat leader level to the Chief Minister of the state. So how can they themselves pass the Act without public consultation when a law concerns the elected representatives?”
The NGO had also arranged for a public meeting on Lokayukta on Sunday in Nungambakkam and had invited the minister and the chief secretary to preside over the event. Though the event took place, neither the minister nor the chief secretary was in attendance.
Speaking to the reporters about this, D Jayakumar on Monday said, “We have taken note of their (Arappor Iyakkam’s) considerations and will discuss it in the Assembly while discussing the Bill.”