Khanduri Slams U'khand CM for Statement on Lokayukta

Khanduri Slams U'khand CM for Statement on Lokayukta

Former CM B C Khanduri today took exception to Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna's statement that Uttarakhand will implement a Lokayukta Act based on the anti-corruption law passed by Parliament.

BJP leader Khandhuri, during whose tenure the state assembly passed the Lokayukta Act, criticised Bahuguna for saying that the anti-corruption legislation is yet to come into force in the state. Only the annulment of the existing Act will pave the way for enacting a new law, he said.

"How can the chief minister say the Lokayukta Act is not in force in the state when it has already been given Presidential assent and notified by the state government?" Khanduri told PTI.

Terming as "unconstitutional" Bahuguna's statement that a Lokayukta Act drafted on the lines of the Lokpal bill passed by Parliament will be implemented in the state and not the one passed by the state assembly during the previous BJP government, Khanduri contended that the Bill took immediate effect after it got Presidential assent on September 3.

Noting that there is a constitutional procedure to replace an old act with a new one, he said if the state government has reservations about the Act which is already in force, it has the powers to annul it after taking the Cabinet into confidence and bringing in a fresh legislation in its place in the state assembly.

Once passed by the state assembly, the Bill is forwarded to the Governor who in turn sends it to the President for his assent, the BJP leader said. He accused the chief minister of not moving at all in that direction.

"It is about 100 days since the Bill got Presidential assent in September this year but the Act has not even been brought up before the Cabinet which is the first step towards its annulment -- an idea the state government seems to be toying with. Bahuguna government is only dragging its feet over the issue," he claimed.

When asked whether Bahuguna government lacked the political will for creation of an anti-corruption ombudsman, Khanduri said the ruling coalition in the state was divided over the issue of a new Lokayukta bill replacing the one passed by the state assembly during his tenure.

"The Speaker of the state assembly has publicly spoken in favour of the Lokayukta Act passed during my time.

"Even the chief minister's efforts to evolve a consensus among his own MLAs over annulling it have drawn a blank so far with the six member PDF (a conglomerate of independents, BSP and UKD MLAs supporting Bahuguna govt) not supporting him over the issue," Khanduri said, adding, that seems to be the reason why Bahuguna government is delaying resolution of the issue.

Bahuguna has repeatedly said he is strongly in favour of creation of an anti-corruption watchdog in the state but has reservations about some of the provisions of the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill passed during Khanduri's tenure and that a Lokayukta Act designed along the lines of the Centre's Lokpal bill will be implemented in the state.

Drafted at the time when Anna Hazare's agitation for a Lokpal Bill was at its peak, Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill was passed unanimously by the state assembly on November 1, 2011 after Khanduri took over the reins of power in the state for a second time in September, 2011.

Given presidential assent after a nearly two-year wait, the Lokayukta Act brings under its ambit the chief minister, ministers, MLAs, bureaucrats, former government servants and functionaries of the subordinate judiciary.

His government had also taken proper safeguards to prevent the Lokayukta from becoming autocratic by making it a seven-member autonomous body with Leader of the Opposition, members of the civil society and government functionaries proposed to be on the panel.

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