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Himachal assembly refers Lokayukta bill to committee

Posted on Feb 21 2014 | IANS

Shimla, Feb 21 : The Himachal Pradesh assembly Friday referred to a house select committee the Lokayukta bill, which will give the ombudsman special powers to have independent inquiry and prosecution wings.

The Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act of 2014, listed for passing, was introduced in the house Feb 19.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said the bill, which will repeal the existing Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act of 1983, should be referred to a select committee for consideration.

"As expressed by some members, we feel that the bill should be referred to the select committee of Vidhan Sabha with some more amendments to make its provisions stronger and more effective," Virbhadra Singh said in the assembly.

He said the government wanted that there should be serious discussions on the important bill.

"The opposition -- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- has boycotted the proceedings in the entire session. We do not want to give them an opportunity to say that such an important bill was passed in the assembly in their absence," he said.

He said the government would call a special session of the house to pass the Lokayukta bill.

Earlier participating in the debate, Congress legislator Asha Kumari, deputy speaker Jagat Singh Negi and Himachal Lokhit Party legislator Maheshwar Singh said the bill needed to be strengthened and should be referred to the select committee.

Later talking to reporters, leader of the opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal said the Lokayukta bill was legally flawed.

He said the bill contradicts section 197(1) of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) and section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and violates section 311 of the constitution.

"The provisions in the bill could be challenged in the court of law," the former chief minister added.

Dhumal said the party would give its opinion on the bill to the select committee.

The budget session with 14 sittings was adjourned sine die.

Lokayukta jurisdiction will cover all categories of public servants, posted within and outside the state and brings even the chief minister within its purview.

From the existing one-member Lokayukta, the bill proposes a three-member body, comprising a chairperson and maximum of two members, of which one shall be a judicial person.

"The Lokayukta will constitute an inquiry wing headed by the director of inquiry for conducting preliminary probe into any offence committed by a public servant," says the bill.

The inquiry wing will have all the powers of a civil court like summoning any person and requisitioning any public record.

The prosecution wing, headed by the director of prosecution, after having been so directed by the Lokayukta, can file a case in a special court.

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