Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Feb 24:
Waking up on the issue rather late in the day, the Odisha unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday submitted memorandum to the Governor S C Jamir urging him not to sign the ‘Odisha Lokayukta Bill (OLB)- 2014’ passed by the Odisha Legislative Assembly on February 14 and send it back to the Assembly for reconsideration.
The Bill, rushed through the Assembly in ‘undue haste’, has deviated significantly from the Central ‘Lokpal Act 2011’, as amended in 2013, besides having a number of technical and other deficiencies, AAP said in the memorandum.
The memorandum, submitted by Dhanada Mishra, state coordinator of AAP, along with party workers, said the Bill had been passed without due and proper scrutiny.
The OLB cannot be approved by the Governor in its present form since several of its provisions differ from the Central Act which had received the assent of the President of India.
Besides, there are other issues of great significance which the memorandum had stated that the Pointing out the significant departures from the central law, the memorandum said under sections 20, subsection 6 of the Lokpal Act, the investigation report is to be submitted in Court of Law having jurisdiction, with a copy thereof submitted to the Lokpal while under section 20, sub section of 7 of the Odisha Bill, the investigation report is to be submitted to the Lokayukta, it pointed out.
“There are numerous such changes in State Bill which differ significantly from the existing Central Act. So we have requested the Governor to make 100 per cent scrutiny of the Bill and return the Bill for reconsideration.”
The OLB disrespects the proposed Lokayukta and poses a grave threat to the complainant raising his voice against corruption by public servants, Mishra alleged, adding the Bill has provided for severe punishment to the complainant if his complaint is found to be false. There are no safeguards for the genuine complainant, he said.
With this provision, the ruling party in Odisha wanted to shield itself against any future allegation of corruption by Indian citizens because no citizen would dare to submit any complaint when failure to prove the complaint would end in prosecution, the memorandum said.
The absence of protection for the whistle blower in the OLB will put their lives in grave danger, while the easy means of removal of the ‘Lokayukta’, in sharp contrast with Section 37 of the Central Lokpal Ac as per the process of the removal of Lokpal can be initiated only on a petition signed by 100 MPs will keep him permanently on tenterhooks, it said.
It said Section 37 of OLB provides for signature of only 25 MLAs to start the process. As a consequence, no self-respecting Judge of High Court or Chief Justice of High Court would ever offer himself for the post of ‘Lokayukta’ who can be removed by signature of only 25 MLAs. Thus, only ‘fortune-hunters’ would apply for the post of Odisha Lokayukta. Such persons would always be easily influenced and would always act as per directions of the State Government meaning the ruling party, AAP said in its memorandum.