Latest News: West Bengal Assembly passed Lokayukta Bill

Keeps CM out of its purview in matters linking to the public order

The State Assembly on Thursday passed the West Bengal Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2018 after the Supreme Court in March had pulled up 11 States over not appointing an ombudsman for graft cases. The Bill excludes the Chief Minister from the Lokayukta’s purview in matters linking to the public order.

An amendment tabled by Trinamool Congress MLA Tapas Roy, which was passed by the House, said that other than public order, the Lokayukta shall investigate any objection relating to any charge of corruption against the Chief Minister “with the approval of West Bengal Legislative Assembly, by a majority of two-third members present and voting”.

Before passage of the legislation through a voice vote, there was heated debate in the House with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying that the opposition is creating confusion by telling that the office of the Chief Minister is excluded from the ambit of the Bill. She said that the exclusion primarily concerns administrative decisions such as the deployment of police towards the preservation of public order. “I have given the people the right to question my credibility,” Ms Banerjee said.

The Bill said that the provisions of excluding Chief Minister are in line with the provisions contained in the proviso to section 41 (1) (a) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. The administrators said that the particular section of the Central Act refers to excluding Prime Minister from the purview of investigation of the Lokpal. The Bill passed in the West Bengal Assembly also has a provision that an investigation against a public servant cannot be carried out without the approval of the State government.

(Latest News: West Bengal Assembly passed Lokayukta Bill)

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

‘Powers diluted’

The leader of the Left Legislature Party and CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said that the amendments have reduced the powers of the Lokayukta. “Our Chief Minister has an image of being the symbol of honesty,” he said, showing out that keeping her under the purview of the Lokayukta would have done no harm to her image.

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(Latest News: West Bengal Assembly passed Lokayukta Bill)

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