Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal introduced a bill to put an effective Lokayukta system in place by giving more power to the ombudsman. Introducing the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Bill in the assembly, Dhumal appealed to the members to go through it and have a healthy discussion.

He said that cabinet have incorporated suggestions received from various quarters, including the public. It’s an important bill and added that it covers from the chief minister to a ward panch. Speaker Tulsi Ram said the bill had been listed for discussion Friday, the last day of the budget session.

As per the Bill introduced in assembly, the Lokayukta would be a retired Supreme Court Judge or Chief justice of a High Court. A provision for appointment of two Uplokyukts has also been made.

In the new Lokayukta bill has provision to take remedial action against corruption and bring public servants indulging in corruption to justice. The power to initiate enquiry against the chief minister, ministers, chief parliamentary secretaries, legislators and officers of the rank of secretary and above and heads of the departments would be vested in the Lokayukta, but no action would be initiated without the permission of the full bench of Lokayukta.

Further, the inquiry, investigations and prosecution shall continue in case the complainant dies and no complaint shall be allowed to be withdrawn unless the Lokayukta is fully satisfied that the complainant had made a bonafide mistake, says the bill.

However, the prosecution sanction in case of the ministers and legislators would be accorded by the state assembly while in case of judicial officers, the high court would be the competent authority to grant prosecution sanction.

The bill has a provision to keep the identity of “whistle blowers” secret and providing them security has also been made. While in case of frivolous complaints, there is a provision of a fine upto Rs.10 lakh and imprisonment of one year has also been made.

Before the bill was introduced, Congress leader G.S. Bali sought clarification from the government on Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal’s recent criticism of the draft Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Bill. However CM distanced himself from Team Anna members and clear that no member from Govt has gone to meet Kejriwal.