The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed the Lokayukta bill through voice vote on Monday. The act would be known as the Tamil Nadu Lokayukta Act 2018. The bill was introduced in the Assembly by the Minister of Personnel and Administrative reforms D Jayakumar.
Lokayukta will now act like an ombudsman for anti-corruption in the state level. The Lokayukta Act was enacted to probe corruption charges against elected representatives.
While the bill was passed in the Assembly, members of the DMK led by the working president of DMK, MK Stalin walked out of the Assembly as a protest for not allowing them to discuss their reservations regarding the act.
Speaking to reporters after the walkout, MK Stalin said, ‚ÄúThe Lokayukta‚Äôs select committee must include a judge from the High Court too. The Assembly has passed a bill that lacks teeth. Government contracts and local administration has not been brought under the purview of Lokayukta. We oppose this.‚ÄĚ
Calling the act a ‚ÄėJoke-Ayukta,‚Äô Jayaram Venkatesan, the convenor of Arappor Iyakkam said,‚ÄĚThe act does not specify anything about the punishment that would be given to elected representatives who are found guilty. It instead talks about the punishment to the complainant. This is a joke and must be ripped apart and thrown away.‚ÄĚ
He also alleged conflict of interest in the clauses that specifies the mechanism for inquiry of elected representatives.
Members of Arappor Iyakkam had earlier demanded that the government conduct a public consultation on the draft bill and staged a protest in front of the Secretariat on Monday.
Features of the TN Lokayukta Act, 2018
1. The Lokayukta will consist of a chairman and four members. The chairman and two of the four members will be persons experienced in the legal system of India.
2. Chairman will be current or former judge of high court or had served at least 25 years in any of fields of anti-corruption, public administration, awareness, finance or law.
3. As per the act passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the chairman and the members of the Lokayukta
a. should not be an elected Member of Parliament (MP) or a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA)
b. should not have been convicted by a court of law
c. should not be less than 45 years of age
d. should not be a member of the local administration or corporation
e. should not have been removed from a state or central government service
f. should not hold an office of profit and should not have any relationship with political parties
4. The appointments shall be made by the Governor based on the recommendations by a select committee consisting of the Chief Minister, the leader of the Assembly and the leader of the opposition in the Assembly.
5. As per this Act, people who are found to have filed false complaints can be punished with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh and an imprisonment of upto one year.
6. The Chief Minister and cabinet comes under the purview of the Act, but local administration and government contracts do not.
The Lokayukta Act was passed by the central government in 2013 and was notified by the centre in 2014. According to Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013, every state was given a time limit of one year from the commencement of this Act to establish a Lokayukta in the state level.
Every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the State Legislature, to deal with complaints relating to corruption against certain public functionaries, within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act.
The Supreme Court in an order in April 2018 had pulled up Tamil Nadu government for the delay in forming Lokayukta. It ordered the state government to file a status report by July 10 on the steps taken by the government to form Lokayukta.