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TN Assembly passes Lokayukta bill in absence of opposition

Press Trust of India  |  Chennai 

The Assembly today passed the bill for setting up the institution of to probe allegations of against public servants, following a walkout by the opposition, which dubbed the legislation as "toothless".

The DMK and its allies--the and IUML-- wanted the bill to be referred to a Select Committee, and when their plea was not accepted, they walked out of the House in protest.

After the DMK and it allies had trooped out, the Tamil Nadu Bill, 2018 was passed by a voice vote.

Earlier today, for Fisheries, Personnel and Administrative Reforms D Jayakumar tabled the bill.

The would be empowered to probe allegations of against serving and former ministers, including the chief minister, sitting or retired legislators and state government employees.

Reading out the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill, Jayakumar said the Centre had earlier enacted the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 which provides for setting up the institution of Lokayukta in every state.

"Accordingly, the government has decided to establish the Lokayukta for the state of to inquire into allegations of against public servants," he said.

According to the bill, the anti-graft panel shall be chaired by a sitting or retired high court judge, or a person with 25 years of experience in anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, and law.

The anti-corruption ombudsman shall have four members, including two judicial members.

The and the members will be appointed by the on the recommendation of a comprising the Chief as its head, Assembly Speaker and of Opposition, or the of the single largest opposition party in the Assembly, it said.

The Lokayukta's powers include summoning and examining any person and receiving evidence of affidavits. The investigation wing of the body shall have all the powers of a civil court under the CrPC, 1908, the bill said.

It can order a preliminary enquiry against any public servant by its investigation wing, or any agency of the government, to ascertain whether a prima facie case exists.

However, it cannot inquire into any complaint made against the or the members of Lokayukta, the bill said.

People making "frivolous, false or vexatious" complaints shall be punished with one-year imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine.

Speaking on the bill, of the Opposition, MK expressed joy over the government having brought the legislation, saying he was insisting on setting up the Lokayukta for long.

However, he said, there was no clarity in the bill about conducting investigation against a chief Responding to him, Jayakumar and C Ve Shanmugam said the Lokayukta's jurisdiction covered the

demanded that the bill include provisions for creating separate investigation and prosecution wings under the panel, and adequate protection for informers.

He also wanted an "eminent person" to be included in the that would choose the of the panel, and suggested that the bill be referred to a to examine these issues.

He insisted that the "toothless" bill should not be taken up for consideration today.

Soon after he made the demand, senior ministers were seen consulting K Palaniswami for a while. Jayakumar then requested the House to pass the bill.

His demand ignored, said the main opposition DMK was walking out in protest. Members of ally and followed suit.

Later, speaking to media, Jayakumar slammed the DMK over the walkout, saying it amounted to "supporting corruption.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, July 09 2018. 18:40 IST