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Kerela Assembly passes Lokayukta Amendment Bill

  • Published
    1st Sep, 2022
Context

Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022, has been passed by the State’s legislature, amid a boycott led by the opposition.

About

Highlight of the Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022:

  • A public servant has to vacate office if directed by the Lokayukta.
  • The amendment Bill has made the Legislative Assembly the competent authority to review an indicting report against the Chief Minister.
  • In the case of legislators, the competent authority will be the House Speaker.
  • The competent authority can now either reject or accept the ombudsman’s report.
  • If a Lokayukta report indicts a cabinet minister, the Bill vests the reviewing authority in the Chief Minister.
  • The Bill exempts political leaders from the purview of the Act.
  • The Bill allows for retired High Court judges to be appointed Lokayukta.

What are the Lokayuktas?

  • The Lokayuktas are the state equivalents of the Lokpal at the centre.
  • These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
  • The term Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by L. M. Singhvi.
  • In 1966, the First Administrative Reforms Commission recommended the setting up of two independent authorities- at the central and state level, to look into complaints against public functionaries, including MPs.
  • In 2005, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission chaired by Veerappa Moily also recommended that the office of Lokpal should be established without delay.
  • States have to establish the Lokayukta to deal with complaints of corruption against certain public functionaries in the states.
  • In some states, Lokayuktas was already functioning when the 2013 Act was passed.
  • Most states, however, are without a Lokayukta even after the 2013 Act.
  • The Supreme Court has directed these states to take steps for the appointment of Lokayukta.

Formation of Lokayukta:

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act delegates the power to States to establish by law the Lokayukta to deal with complaints relating to corruption against public functionaries. Some States have already established Lokayukta. For example, Maharashtra in 1971, and Kerala in 1999.
  • The Lokayukta is appointed by the Governor of the State. At the time of appointment, the Governor, generally, consults the Chief Justice of the State High Court, and the Leader of Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly.
  • The structure of Lokayukta does not follow a uniform pattern in all the states. Some states such as Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra have created the Lokayukta as well as Up-Lokayukta, while some others like Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have created only the Lokayukta.
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