SC gives TN two months to form Lokayukta

SC gives TN two months to form Lokayukta

The Supreme Court today allowed the Tamil Nadu government two months time to form the Lokayukta, the anti-corruption body.

The apex court heard the State Government’s request for time after it informed the court in compliance report that the State Assembly had passed the bill to constitute the ombudsman body only on Monday and it had to get Governor’s assent and then notified in the gazette before it can come into force.

Tamil Nadu was one of the 12 States pulled up by the Supreme Court on lack of progress in setting up the Lokayukta.

In April this year, the court rejected the State's plea that it could not enact the law because of pendency of the issue before court and directed it to set up the Lokayukta before July 10.

Accordingly, the Assembly passed the bill on the last day of its budget session on Monday. The proposed Lokayukta, comprising a chairperson and four members, can inquire into complaints of corruption by public servants and recommend departmental action against them.

According to the Bill, the Lokayukta will have all the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure and have jurisdiction over all MLAs, former MLAs, and Ministers including Chief Minister, former Ministers and all public servants defined in the Prevention of Corruption Act.

On receipt of a complaint, the Lokayukta can forward it to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, a government wing, to decide if there is a prima facie case.

In case the officers belong to Group A and B, the Vigilance Commission will submit its report to the Lokayukta. In the case of Group C and D staff, it can initiate proceedings on its own.

In case of need for a detailed inquiry, the inquiry wing of the Lokayukta will probe the case and submit a report. Based on that, the Lokayukta can recommend action against the public servants.

Non-governmental organizations(NGO) like Arappor Iyakkam (Fight for Justice) and Satta Panchayat (Law Forum) have dismissed the proposed Lokayukta bill as toothless, a point made by the DMK and other opposition parties also.

Arumugam and Jayaraman, members of these NGOs, have described Lokayukta as a “paper knife”. They said the Government had given a paper knife when a surgical knife was needed to remove the canker of cancer in the society. They also said that those giving a false information to the ombudsman can be imprisoned up to one year and also fined up to Rs 1 lakh . This is to deter complainants.