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West Bengal Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill passed; CM kept out of its purview

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The West Bengal Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2018 has been passed in the Assembly on Thursday after Oppositions’ call for division on the Bill, keeping the chief minister out of its purview in matters relating to public order.

The Bill, however, allows the Lokayukta to investigate into matters relating to the chief minister on the other 58 subjects under the State List, with the approval of two-third of the members of the assembly present and voting.

Speaking on the Bill, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stated that recruitment of police, deployment of forces and any other emergency situations would be regarded as public order.

She said a section of media and Opposition parties were “spreading canards” that the chief minister has been kept out of the purview of the entire West Bengal Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill.

It is not true as only matters related to public order have been exempted, she said. “The people of this state will decide my credentials. For me, the credentials are the biggest thing that a politician can possess. I have been elected by the people,” she asserted.

“All MLAs, even councillors and panchayat members are under the purview of the Lokayukta. Now those who are spreading canards against me and questioning my credentials, please do not approach me after the Bill is passed pleading to look into the reports that went against them.

Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan and CPI (M) legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty both said that the West Bengal Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2018 lost its relevance as it excluded chief minister from the purview of the Act.

“The Bill aims that any investigation of any complaint relating to allegation of corruption against chief minister relating to public order will be exempted. Further it is stated that any investigation of the complaint against a public servant could not be initiated without the approval of the state government,” said Sujan Chakraborty.

Chakraborty said, that it seems that the state government is treating Lokayukta is another extended department of the state administration, which is ridiculous.

“On Thursday, the BJP MLAs have abstained themselves from the voting clearly shows that there is closeness between BJP and TMC and these parties’ MLAs are reluctant to fight against the corruption related issue.”

This Bill (amendment) will also help CM, other ministers and public servants easily to escape the inquiry,” he said. The object of the Bill is also to abolish the post of Upa-Lokayukta.

The Bill (Amendment) also keeps provision that any complaint alleging corrupt practices by any public servant to be investigated by the Lokayukta. A Justice of the High Court would be a Lokayukta.