Meeting the three-month deadline set by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the State Assembly on Friday passed the Odisha Lokayukta Bill, 2014 with provision of keeping Chief Minister, ex-Chief Ministers, other ministers and public servants under the purview of a 6-member anti-corruption panel.
The Bill, introduced in the Assembly on February 12, was unanimously passed after a two-day discussion. The Bill has provisions similar to that of the Central Act which was passed in Parliament in December, 2013.
"With the passage of the Bill, Odisha became the first state to enact the law after the central act was passed in Parliament," said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das, who piloted the Bill on behalf of Chief Minister. Patnaik had earlier announced that the state government will ensure passage of the bill within 90 days of the Central Act. With passage of the bill, Odisha Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 1995 stood repealed.
Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat had yesterday extended the ongoing session of the Assembly by one day for passing of this bill. Of the total 60 clauses, only five amendments were accepted by the government before it was passed.
"I am not sure whether this Bill can completely eradicate corruption from the state. But, it will certainly help to curb the corrupt practice to a great extent," the minister said. As per the provisions of the Bill, the incumbent as well as former chief ministers, ministers, MLAs, government officers, heads of panchayats and municipalities and trusts receiving government grants will come under the purview of the Lokayukta who is empowered to probe into graft charges.
NGOs, contractors (firm or persons) and suppliers dealing with government money would also be covered by it. The Chairman of the Lokayukta will be either a sitting or former High Court judge and the commission would consist of at least two judicial members.
From among ther non-judicial members one would be either from women, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe or minority category on rotation basis. The Lokaykta should be at least 50 years of age.
The Lokayukta will be chosen by a selection committee headed by the chief minister and comprising others including the Leader of the Opposition, speaker of Odisha assembly, Chief Justice of Orissa High Court or a judge nominated by him and an eminent jurist nominated by the Governor. The chairman of the Lokayukta would be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the selection committee.