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State govt in a hurry to bring Lokayukta Act

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OST Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 7:

The Naveen Patnaik government is in a hurry to take the credit of being the first state in the country to implement the Lokayukta law to give its sullied image- courtesy Shah Commission’s recent indictment- a facelift before the 2014 general elections.

According to reliable sources, it is all set to bring an ordinance for appointment of Lokayukta by the end of this month and not wait for the budget session of the assembly beginning in February.

A draft of the ordinance has already been prepared and sent to the Law department for its opinion, suggestions and recommendations on Monday, said the sources.

The draft of the ordinance was prepared in a record three days’ time after the chief minister announced that the state government will bring the Lokayukta Act within a month, the sources added.

Sources in the government revealed that the Lokayukta will be chosen jointly by a panel comprising the assembly speaker, chief minister, leader of opposition, chief justice of the Odisha High Court and a person nominated by the Governor as its members.

Eight nominated members will assist the Lokayukta in his work and a director prosecution will be appointed for conducting investigations says the provisions in the draft ordinance, the sources further revealed.

The principal secretary Public Grievances & Pension Administration department Sangram Keshari Mishra while declining to give details of the draft ordinance before it is approved by the cabinet, however, said the draft of the Lokayukta ordinance was ready and would be put up for the cabinet’s approval very soon. Mishra hinted that the draft has been prepared on the lines of the Lokpal Act of the Central government.

According to the rules of business in Odisha, Lokapal and Lokayukta fall under the purview of the Public Grievances & Pension Administration department. Therefore the Public Grievances & Pension Administration department has prepared the draft of the ordinance.

Parallel preparations are underway to repeal the Lokpal Act, 1995.

A judge of the rank of the chief justice of the High Court will be appointed as the Lokayukta. The Lokayukta will be paid a salary equivalent to that of the chief justice of the High Court. The speaker of the assembly, chief minister, leader of opposition, chief justice of the Odisha High Court and a person nominated by the Governor as member will nominate the Lokayukta in a joint meeting. While the Lokayukta’s term has been fixed at five years, the superannuation limit is 70 years.

The panel nominating the Lokayukta will also nominate the eight members for assisting the Lokayukta in his work. While four members will of the rank of High Court judges, the other members will be nominated from distinguished personalities who have achieved excellence in different fields. Two seats out of these will be reserved for persons belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women and other categories. The eight member panel to assist the Lokayukta in his/her work will be paid salaries equivalent to that of High Court judges.

The Lokayukta will nominate the director of prosecution. The chief minister, ministers, Vigilance, private organizations and government employees will come under the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta as per the provisions of the draft ordinance.

According to reports while the Public Grievances & Pension Administration department prepared the draft within three days while the ordinance will receive the approval of the Law department by the end of second week this month, a memorandum on the draft is expected to be ready by the third week the state government is all set to bring the ordinance by the end of this month.

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