The Aam Admi Party (AAP ) has submitted a draft of the Lokayukta bill prepared by Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan to chief minister Manohar Parrikar.
Last month Parrikar had requested Bhushan to submit a draft on changes to be made to the Lokayukta Act in view of the widely-criticized amendments that Parrikar had passed in the winter session. Anti-corruption groups and even the AAP had said the amendments-which made provisions for steep fines of 10 lakh and even imprisonment for vexatious complaints- that had been passed were to deter the complainants.
AAP executive member Dinesh Vagela said AAP Goa received the draft from Bhushan on March 11 and immediately sought an appointment with Parrikar, but he did not respond.
Vagela said Parrikar had asked Bhushan to submit the draft before March 15 so that he could ensure it would be introduced and passed in the budget session of the assembly scheduled to commence on March 18.
In view of the AAP receiving no response from Parrikar for two days, a delegation went to the secretariat on Wednesday to sumbit the draft. They happened to meet Parikar at the entrance while he was leaving, and submitted a copy to him and also submitted a copy to chief secretary B Vijayan.
Vagela said the AAP had done its part and, "it was now up to Parrikar to honour his promise of passing the new draft".
He said the draft prepared by Bhushan was on the lines of the Uttarakhand Act, which the BJP had promised to implement in Goa through necessary amendments to the existing act within 100 days of coming to power but failed to do so after even one year in office.
Elaborating on the draft, Vagela said, "This does not need the Centre's (approval) or the President's assent, as certain sections from the Uttarakhand Act which were not relevant to Goa have been removed from the draft.
Vagela said as per the new draft, the Lokayukta is empowered to approach the high court after 15 days of submitting the report, if the competent authority doesn't decide on it. It also provides for investigation and prosecution wings as well as timely completion of investigations.
Another major difference in the AAP draft is the provision of a five-member search committee and a much broader selection committee which includes the chief minister, leader of opposition, two high court judges, a former Lokayukta chairperson and two retired non-political persons of impeccable integrity who have served in high posts such as chiefs of the defence branches among others.
Vagela also said the draft clarifies that just because a complaint is not proved, it is not false. Parrikar's recent amendments had proposed very harsh punishments on false complaints, a provision that could be misused. [TOI]