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NGOs seek strong Lokayukta

- Politicians should be brought under the act: Activist

Shillong, Jan. 2: Social activists have decided to put pressure on the state to either scrap or amend the Meghalaya Lokayukta and Uplokayukta Act of 2002.

“We will create public awareness shortly on the need to have a useful Lokayukta in the state,” anti-corruption campaigner and social activist Michael Syiem said today.

According to the activist, the state’s own Lokayukta should have the power to investigate corruption cases without any interference from the Centre and punish the guilty through a fast track court. “The appointment of the Lokayukta should be in line with that of the chief information commissioner who is appointed under RTI provisions,” Syiem, who is also an RTI activist, said.

The Meghalaya Assembly passed the state Lokayukta and Uplokayukta Act nine years ago but it remained non-operational for all these years.

However, the provisions under the act had loopholes, as the role of Lokayukta was limited to that of a mere recommending agency after the investigation of cases.

The findings of the Lokayukta could be rejected by the government under the present act. Moreover, the chief minister, ministers and senior bureaucrats will have the upper hand in decision making, as the Lokayukta has no financial, judicial and administrative independence.

According to Syiem politicians and senior bureaucrats should also be brought under the purview of the new Lokayukta Act.

“The present state vigilance commission headed by the chief secretary has also not taken any proactive steps to aggressively pursue corruption cases,” said Syiem, who is also the chairman of Mait Shaphrang Movement, an NGO fighting for social change.

“In this context, we will campaign for setting up of an independent Lokayukta in the state after either amending or scraping the present act,” Syiem said.

Mait Shaphrang Movement will join hands with another Shillong-based NGO, Civil Society Women’s Organisation, to pressure the government to create an effective Lokayukta in the state.

President of Civil Society Women’s Organisation Agnes Kharshiing said as part of their fight against corruption they will campaign for a strong Lokayukta Act in the state.

“We will seek the support of like-minded people and the general public to pressure the state to set up an effective anti-corruption body,” she said.

Earlier, RTI activists in the state had suggested that there should be a separate prosecution wing and the Lokayukta should monitor it and appoint a director for it.

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