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‘Good faith’ shield in anti-graft bill

Shillong, March 7: Public servants in Meghalaya who committed wrongdoings in “good faith” and in the discharge of official duty will escape trials, according to a new anti-corruption bill introduced in the Assembly today.

The new bill, known as Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2014, which is replacing the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2012, was tabled by chief minister Mukul Sangma on the first day of the budget session that commenced here with the governor’s address.

“No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings under this act shall lie against any public servant, in respect of anything which is done in good faith or intended to be done in the discharge of his official functions or in exercise of his powers,” one of the sections in chapter XV of the proposed law stated.

In another section, the proposed legislative measure stated: “No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the Lokayukta or against any officer, employee, agency or any person, in respect of anything which is done in good faith or intended to be done under this act or the rules or the regulations made thereunder.”

Chapter XIV of the proposed law states that whoever makes any false and frivolous or vexatious complaint under this act, shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months and with a fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh.

In case of conviction of a person for having made false complaint under the act, such a person shall be liable to pay compensation to the affected public servant in addition to the legal expenses for contesting the case by such public servant, as the special court may determine.

The bill provides for the establishment of Lokayukta for Meghalaya to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries, including the chief minister, deputy chief minister, ministers, Speaker and deputy Speaker, members of the state legislature, officers, employees and others.

In his statement of object and reason, the chief minister said the state government has considered and agreed to have a new Lokayukta legislation on the lines of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2013 passed by Parliament by repealing the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2012.

The bill is likely to be passed in the House during the current session.