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Plea for women in anti-corruption body

- Meghalaya to table Lokayukta bill

Shillong, March 14: RTI activists have demanded the inclusion of women in the Lokayukta in Meghalaya, while asking the state government to expedite the process of making the anti-corruption body functional.

The state government will table the Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2014 during the ongoing budget session of the state Assembly. The bill is slated to be tabled on Tuesday, the last day of the session.

The bill is in tandem with the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act as enacted by Parliament recently, and it will repeal the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2013.

Welcoming the new bill, Meghalaya Right to Information Movement (MRTIM) leader Michael N. Syiem said the bill is far stronger than the previous law.

He also stated that information seekers through the RTI Act, 2005 would have the opportunity to place their findings before the anti-corruption body once the bill is passed and notified.

Hitherto, RTI findings largely remain within the domain of the media. But once the anti-corruption body is established, people would have the opportunity to lodge complaints based on the information collected through the RTI Act.

MRTIM member Angela Rangad expressed the hope that some percentage would be considered for women to become members of the anti-corruption body.

As per the bill, there would be a chairperson and four other members who would constitute the Lokayukta, and 50 per cent of them would be judicial members.

However, Rangad said the bill should not be too harsh on the complainants. Else, it would deter people from filing complaints before the Lokayukta.

According to the bill, whoever makes “false and frivolous or vexatious complaint”, shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to six months and with fine, which may extend to Rs 1 lakh.

At the same time, she demanded that the Lokayukta comprise persons who have not been involved in any kind of corruption. She also said that a timeframe should be set for the notification of the law.