Governor urged not to endorse Odisha Lokayukta Bill until changes made

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 13:

A delegation of the Odisha Lokayukta Abhijan (OLA), a civil society forum spearheading the campaign for effective implementation of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 today submitted a memorandum to Governor, Odisha appealing to him not to endorse the Odisha Lokayukta Bill, unless a provision is made making State Vigilance as an independent and autonomous Body.

The four-member delegation comprising former minister Panchanan Kanungo,senior journalist Rabi Das, Odisha High Court lawyer Khirod Rout and human rights activist Pradeep Pradhan met with the Governor and apprised him of the repugnancies in the impugned Odisha Lokayukta Bill 2014 vis-à-vis the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013.

While the Central government  has made Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI) an autonomous body by amending Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 following the enactment of Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013,  the Odisha government has not made any provision to make the State Vigilance, a premier investigating agency in the state as an independent body. Since the Vigilance department still remains under the control of the state government, it can not make independent inquiry or investigation or do justice to the people even after the enactment of proposed Odisha Lokayukta Act.

The delegation also requested the Governor to ensure the compliance of Section 49 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013 by way of suitable amendment to the impugned Odisha Bill The Odisha Lokayukta Bill 2014 which has no provision to declare Lokayukta as the final appellate authority in respect of appeals arising out of  Odisha Right to Public Services Act 2012.

In deference to the Supreme Court’s recent judgment (dated 6 May 2014) directing the Central government to delete the provision of previous sanction preceding an inquiry or investigation by the CBI into charges of corruption leveled against a certain class of public servants, the members of OLA also appealed to the Governor, the constitutional head of the State, to direct the state government to do away with the hitherto practiced impugned provision for previous sanction from the government for initiation of an inquiry, investigation or prosecution against a corrupt public servant by the Odisha Directorate of Vigilance.

Pradip Pradhan, senior member of the OLA said that in February, 2014, the State Assembly hurriedly passed the Odisha Lokayukta Bill, 2014 without going for any public consultation and in violation of the Central Lokpal and Lokayukta Act.

On March 1 this year, the OLA had informed the Governor through a memorandum about the critical omissions and commissions that plagued this Bill vis-à-vis the parent Act and the need for its remedial correction.

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