MUMBAI: Maharashtra is set to become the first state in India to pass Lokayukta Bill 2022, incorporating Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers under its domain.
According to the draft Bill, the anticorruption ombudsman Lokayukta will have to seek the approval of the assembly before initiating any inquiry against the chief minister and bringing a motion before the session of the house. The draft Bill has been referred to a Select Committee.
Briefing the media, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis termed the draft Bill as historic. “The Chief Minister and Council of Ministers were not part of the earlier Lokayukta law. The governor could only recommend action against any minister. Now, the Chief Minister, ministers and public representatives have been brought under the ambit of Lokayukta,” he said.
Fadnavis shared that when he was the Chief Minister from 2014-19, he had assured anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare that a Lokayukta law would be brought in on the lines suggested by him. A committee was formed with Hazare and his representatives. The panel suggested changes in the draft. The Prevention of Corruption Act was not part of the earlier Lokayukta 1971 Act and it only had powers to make recommendations, Fadnavis said.
On the appointment of the Ombudsman, the draft law states that the Lokayukta shall consist of a chairperson who is or has been the Chief Justice of the High Court, a judge of the Supreme Court or a judge of the Bombay High Court.
The selection committee for the appointment of members and the chairperson will comprise Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Chairperson of the Legislative Council, the Leaders of Opposition in the Assembly and Council and the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Bombay High Court or a judge nominated by the CJ.
“No appointment of the chairperson or a member shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy in the selection committee,” says the draft Bill.