The Telegraph
Thursday , January 16 , 2014
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Dispur moots new Lokayukta

Guwahati, Jan. 15: The Assam government will repeal the existing Lokayukta act, to enact a new and effective legislation on the lines of the Centre’s Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said the Assam Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act, 1985, will be repealed in order to enact another act, to be modelled on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 passed by Parliament last month.

A special session of the state Assembly has been convened on February 10 to pass the new Lokayukta bill.

Gogoi said they are bringing the new bill since the existing one was not strong enough. “The present Lokayukta act is a weak one. Instead of making amendments to it, we have decided to enact a new law on the lines of the Central act,” he said.

Under the new law, the office of chief minister will also be brought within the ambit of the Lokayukta, which was not there in the 1985 act. The existing act does not even authorise the Lokayukta to register a case suo motu as a result of which the office of the Lokayukta in the state is widely seen as a toothless tiger.

Set up in 1985 to investigate grievances and allegations against ministers, legislators and other public servants, currently the Lokayukta in Assam does not have its own investigative wing, as in Karnataka and even government officials are not allowed to lodge complaints.

“After the new act comes into effect, the Lokayukta will be empowered to register corruption-related cases against all offices of top state government functionaries including the chief minister, members of the cabinet and bureaucrats, investigate them and prosecute,” he said.

Congress insiders said the state government’s decision to bring a new Lokayukta act was the result of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi asking the Congress-ruled states in the country to give more teeth to Lokayuktas as anti-corruption ombudsmen before the Lok Sabha polls.

Gogoi also announced today that the state government has lifted the cess on fruits and vegetables, which was collected by the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board.

According to party insiders, it has also been done on the directive of Rahul Gandhi to party chief ministers to control prices of fruits and vegetables.

Gogoi welcomed the recent statement of Rahul Gandhi expressing willingness to accept any responsibility conferred upon him by his party and said Rahul should be projected by the party as its prime ministerial candidate.