Even after the President’s assent, the future of Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act seems to hang in balance with the state government considering a new law, saying certain provisions in it will be difficult to enforce.
Expressing reservations over some of the provisions of the Act, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Sunday said it cannot be enforced in its original form and an option to “change the law” or “bring in a new one” was open.
“We have the option of changing the law or bringing a new one as certain provisions of the Act will be difficult to enforce,” Mr. Bahuguna said, noting that it would be difficult to bring lower judiciary under the ambit of the ombudsman.
“The final decision on the Act would be taken during the next meeting of the state Cabinet on November 7. The government has kept all its options open,” he said.
The Bill, passed during the previous BJP regime, has the provision to bring the Chief Minister among others under its ambit with a provision of rigorous imprisonment for a period of six to ten years. In the rarest of rare cases, the punishment may be extended up to life imprisonment.
Opposition BJP, however, has put pressure on the government to implement the Act in its present form and accused it of hiding from people the President’s approval, which was given on September 4.
Former Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri, during whose tenure the Act was passed, said no other state can boast of such a stringent law to fight the monster of corruption.
“People will not indulge in corruption because of the stringent provisions the Act invokes and that it would be unfair to make any change to it,” he said.
The Bill was unanimously passed by the Uttarakhand Assembly on November 1 and later signed by Governor Margaret Alva who forwarded it to the President for his final approval as it fell in the Concurrent List.
Besides the Chief Minister, ministers, MLAs and government servants, including IAS and IPS officers, will come under the ambit of the new law.
Former chief ministers, former ministers and retired officers will also be under the purview of the Lokayukta.
The Lokayukta has been kept independent of government control and allows setting up of special courts to probe corruption charges. The law also has a provision to ensure security of whistle-blowers.