Somewhere in Uttarakhand....

The Uttarakhand cabinet gave the Jan Lokpal Bill a green signal in a meeting chaired by chief minister B C Khanduri on Saturday. The strong Lokayukta would have the chief minister, all ministers, MLAs, top bureaucrats including IAS officers, and all government servants under its ambit. The Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill, 2011, will now be tabled in the 70-member Uttarakhand assembly during its two-day session commencing on Monday. The bill is a replica of Anna’s Jan Lokpal Bill and Khanduri’s move to act decisively on it is a clear sign of being in line with public sentiments ahead of state elections in February 2012. The lower judiciary is also included in the Lokayukta net but judges of the Uttarakhand high court would fall outside the purview of the Lokayukta. The Lokayukta can also investigate former chief ministers, former ministers and retired officers. Khanduri himself had been made the CM in an attempt to salvage the BJP’s image as his predecessor Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank’s government was mired in corruption cases and was fast losing public trust. “The objective of the bill is not just to eradicate corruption but also to maintain transparency and professional honesty in government functioning,” Khanduri said. Comprising five members under a chairperson, the Lokayukta would have the scope to increase its member strength to seven depending on its needs. The spectrum of punishments is wide and starts with a minimum sentence of six months and goes on to a maximum of life imprisonment.

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