Maharashtra sets up panel for stronger Lokayukta

Even as Anna Hazare continues to sit on an indefinite fast demanding the Lokpal Bill, the Maharashtra government has announced constituting a committee of senior bureaucrats to suggest measures to strengthen Lokayukta in the state. The panel will be headed by additional chief secretary (revenue), secretary (law and judiciary) and secretary (general administration department). The panel will submit its detailed report suggesting more powers for the anti-graft watchdog before the next winter session commencing in Nagpur in December. 
The decision was taken by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan following a meeting 
to discuss a private-member’s bill moved by BJP MLA Devendra Fadanavis in an earlier assembly session. Senior leaders, including deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and leader of opposition Eknath Khadse, were present in the meeting. Fadanavis has demanded separate police machinery, designated court and staff to tackle corruption cases. In its present state, the draft private bill said, Maharashtra’s anti-graft watchdog has no teeth to take action or to seek clarification from the state on compliance. “Since 2003, the Lokayukta has been demanding more powers. From 2008 onwards the state has not complied with a sincase,” Fadanavis said. Chavan directed the panel to study the Lokayukta Acts of other states.

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