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Kerala Assembly passes bill seeking to curtail powers of Lokayukta

Calling it a black day in the history of the Assembly, Opposition leader VD Satheesan said “We cannot be a witness to the “killing” of the anti-corruption body.

Statesman News Service | Thiruvananthapuram |

The Kerala Assembly, on Tuesday, passed the Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill that curtails the powers of the anti- corruption Ombudsman.

The amendment to the Lokayukta Act,1999 ,which was brought by the LDF government -led by EK Nayanar 23 years ago, was passed in the state Assembly in the absence of the Opposition.The Congress -led UDF Opposition walked out of the house before the bill was put to vote.

Calling it a black day in the history of the Assembly, Opposition leader VD Satheesan said “We cannot be a witness to the “killing” of the anti-corruption body.

Through this amendment, the government has taken away the tooth and nail of the anti- corruption Ombudsman, he said

The bill was introduced in the House after it was reviewed by the subject committee.The amendments to the Lokayukta makes the orders of the Lokayukta irrelevant.Once the governor signs the bill and it becomes a law, Lokayukta will become a toothless body with the state government getting power either to accept or reject the verdict.

The Opposition has alleged that government has brought the amendment as it fears adverse verdict from the Lokayukta on the complainant pending against him in the body regarding the financial aid given from the Chief Minister’s Disastrous Relief Fund.

As per the amendment, if Lokayukta passes a verdict against the chief minister in a corruption case, the Assembly would be the competent authority to decide on it, not the governor. The appellate authority for the ministers would be the chief minister , while for the members of the Assembly ,it would be the Speaker.

With the Assembly passing the bill, governor’s approved now become crucial.It is to be seen what action governor Arif Mohammed Khan would take in the case of the bill, in the backdrop of the reported ‘conflict’ between the state government and him. He can refer the bill to the president or delay signing it inordinately. The governor has the other day said that every provision in the bill would be scrutinized on the yardstick of the Constitution and fair play.