Uttarakhand Assembly passes new Lokayukta Bill

The new bill replaces Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act passed by the state Assembly during the previous BJP government headed by Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri. As the bill was passed through voting, BJP MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition Ajay Bhatt, staged a walkout raising questions on the justification of the legislation when Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act passed by the House during Khanduri's tenure had already become an Act after getting Presidential assent in September last year. Bhatt said that the earlier bill could have been an effective anti-corruption instrument and there was no need for an entirely new legislation to replace it. According to the new Lokayukta Bill, the Lokayukta will be created in the state and headed by a practicing or retired judge or Chief Justice of the High Court. Besides the head, there will be four members on the panel out of which 50 percent will be from the judiciary and 50 percent from SC/ST/OBC, minorities or women. As per provisions of the legislation, no member of a legislature of any other state or Union territory can be a member of the Lokayukta body. The head of the Lokayukta and its members will be appointed by a five-member selection committee headed by the Chief Minister. The bill had been tabled in the House on Monday by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Indira Hridayesh. Before the bill was passed by voice vote, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said that it had been drafted keeping in mind anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare's vision of the Lokpal. Noting that BJP had supported the Lokpal in Parliament, Bahuguna said that it should also back the legislation in the state Assembly.

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