CMO now comes under Lokayukta’s ambit in Maharashtra

The state council of ministers has brought the chief minister’s office under the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta.

Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan told reporters that apart from the chief minister, state ministers and opposition leaders will also be brought under the ambit of the Lokayukta. “This is a very good initiative to ensure corruption-free governance,” he said.

Amitabh Rajan, retired additional chief secretary (home), said that during his tenure, he had recommended that the CMO be brought under the Lokayukta.

The Lokayukta, headed by a retired HC judge, serves as an ombudsman to help curb corruption in political as well as bureaucratic corridors. Maharashtra was the first state to introduce this institution through the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act in 1971.

Meanwhile, social activist Anna Hazare has announced that he go on a hunger strike from Wednesday over the central and the state government’s failure to fulfil promises on the appointment of a Lokpal and the passage of a new Lokayukta Act in Maharashtra, respectively. He wants the state to accord the Lokayukta in the state more powers, primarily to launch investigations on its own, as well as implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations and some electoral reforms.

In his letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, dated January 28, he said: “It has been five years since the Lokpal Act was passed. Yet, the Narendra Modi government has not appointed a Lokpal and the Lokayukta Act has not been passed in Maharashtra for four years.”

Hazare said he would launch the agitation in his village, Ralegan Siddhi, in Ahmednagar district. Sources close to him said the agitation would begin around 10 am.

Mahajan, who has been acting as a mediator between the government and Hazare, appealed to him to withdraw the agitation, claiming that almost all his demands have been met. Hazare, however, refused to budge.

Fadnavis himself had to mediate when Hazare launched a similar agitation at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi last March. The activist had then withdrawn his stir after the central government purportedly assured him that it would fulfil his demands.

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