The Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013, was passed in the assembly with many controversial provisions. These would threaten the Lokayukta as an institution itself, say experts.
The new law empowers the Narendra Modi government to choose its own Lokayukta to inquire against the chief minister and his cabinet. This violates the basic principle of natural justice, that no man can choose a judge in his own case.
Congress leaders allege that the bill was tabled just to block the appointment of Justice (retired) R A Mehta as Lokayukta. This also comes at a time when a curative petition by the state government, over Mehta’s appointment, is pending before the Supreme Court.
The new law defines a constitutional authority, namely the governor, as authority acting on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. The new legislation has a provision by which the annual report of the Lokayukta will be laid before the legislative assembly, but shall not be open to debate in the House.
JD(U) launched a full-scale offensive against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for allegedly seeking to subvert the institution of Lokayukta and appropriate the powers of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
The state passed the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013 on Tuesday, which proposes a panel of six people headed by the chief minister to select the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta.
“It’s an ineffective bill. The Gujarat CM has kept the powers in his hands. How will the Lokayukta function independently? How will it stop corruption?” asked JD(U) MP and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s colleague Ali Anwar, in what could further contribute to the estrangement between the NDA allies.
Ali Anwar, a former journalist handpicked by Nitish Kumar for two back-toback Rajya Sabha terms, dragged BJP as a whole into the line of fire, accusing it of double standards over the issue of corruption.
“What is most unfortunate is that when the struggle for a strong Lokpal bill was going on under the leadership of Anna Hazare, BJP leaders such as Arun Jaitley had openly lent support. But now their own government has come out with a toothless piece of legislation,” Anwar said.