The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday passed the bill for setting up the institution of Lokayukta to probe allegations of corruption against public servants, following a walkout by the opposition, which dubbed the legislation as “toothless”.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies, the Congress and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), wanted the bill to be referred to a Select Committee, and when their plea was not accepted, they walked out of the House in protest. After the DMK and it allies had trooped out, the Tamil Nadu Lokayukta Bill, 2018 was passed by a voice vote.
Earlier on Monday, Minister for Fisheries, Personnel and Administrative Reforms D Jayakumar tabled the bill. The Lokayukta would be empowered to probe allegations of corruption against serving and former ministers, including the chief minister, sitting or retired legislators and state government employees.Reading out the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill, Jayakumar said the Centre had earlier enacted the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 which provides for setting up the institution of Lokayukta in every state.
“Accordingly, the government has decided to establish the Lokayukta for the state of Tamil Nadu to inquire into allegations of corruption against public servants,” he said.
According to the bill, the anti-graft panel shall be chaired by a sitting or retired high court judge, or a person with 25 years of experience in anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance and law. The anti-corruption ombudsman shall have four members, including two judicial members.
The chairperson and the members will be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of a Selection Committee comprising the Chief Minister as its head, Assembly Speaker and Leader of Opposition, or the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Assembly, it said.
The Lokayukta’s powers include summoning and examining any person and receiving evidence of affidavits. The investigation wing of the body shall have all the powers of a civil court under the CrPC, 1908, the bill said.
It can order a preliminary enquiry against any public servant by its investigation wing, or any agency of the government, to ascertain whether a prima facie case exists.
However, it cannot inquire into any complaint made against the chairperson or the members of Lokayukta, the bill said.
People making “frivolous, false or vexatious” complaints shall be punished with one-year imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine.