Gujarat assembly passes new lokayukta bill for the 2nd time

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  • Tuesday, October 1, 2013
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  • Source: TOI

    GANDHINAGAR: In the continuing tug of war between Narendra Modi government and the Governor, the state assembly on Tuesday passed the Gujarat Lokayukta Ayog Bill 2013 for a second time without incorporating any major changes sought by Raj Bhavan, setting the stage for a fresh confrontation. 

    Governor Kamla Beniwal had on September 3 returned the bill, passed by the assembly on April 2, to the government for reconsideration, dubbing the legislation as "complete mockery of the judicial process and detrimental to the interests of public welfare". 

    The contentious new Bill seeks to establish the primacy of the Chief Minister and the government in the appointment of anti-corruption watchdog. 

    The Bill, piloted by finance minister Nitin Patel, was passed by the House amid protest by the lone Opposition MLA present-- Keshubhai Patel of Gujarat Parivartan Party-- who demanded it be sent to the Standing Committee. The MLAs of main Opposition Congress and NCP were yesterday suspended for two days for creating unruly scenes. 

    In the existing Gujarat Lokayukta Act 1986, the power of selection of Lokayukta is vested in the governor and the chief justice of the high court. The new bill provides for appointment of the lokayukta by a six-member committee headed the chief minister. 

    The Bill passed today incorporated two minor changes from its earlier version including one pertaining to the definition of the governor. The other was deleting words 'substantive capacity' from section 3 sub section five of the bill. 

    The sub-section five of section 3 of the previous Bill said, "The lokayukta shall be a person who is or has been a judge of Supreme Court of India or Chief Justice of a high court in a substantive capacity". 

    The Modi government and Governor Beniwal have been at loggerheads on the issue of appointment of lokayukta ever since she appointed Justice (Retd) R A Mehta to the post on August 25, 2011 bypassing the government, triggering a prolonged legal battle. 

    Though her decision was upheld by the high court and Supreme Court, the post is still lying vacant in the state as Mehta refused to take charge.


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