March 24, 2023

lokayukta: Kerala all set to clip Lokayukta’s powers | India News – Times of India

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala is set to amend the state Lokayukta Act through an ordinance amid stirrings of protest by the opposition over what legal experts see as an attempt to prevent any verdict of the anti-corruption agency being binding on the administration.
The draft of the Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, has been sent to governor Arif Mohammed Khan for his assent. The ordinance proposes amendments to the Kerala Lokayukta Act, 1999, by replacing sub-section (1) of section 14. This particular section empowers the Lokayukta or an Upa Lokayukta to make a declaration in its report that a public servant against whom a complaint is made should not continue to hold that post if the allegation is substantiated. “Where the competent authority is the governor, the government of Kerala or the CM, he or it shall accept the declaration,” it states.
It is this portion of the law, which makes a verdict binding on the government, that is about to be amended. The proposed amendment says, “Where the competent authority is the governor, or the chief minister or the government of Kerala, he or it may either accept, or reject the declaration, after giving an opportunity of being heard.” With CM Vijayan in the US for medical treatment, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan took it upon himself to explain the government’s rationale for bringing the amendment, saying it was aimed at curbing the “unbridled” powers contained in the legislation, the only one of its kind in the country without any provision for appeal against a verdict.
The opposition raised questions about the amendment coming at a time when complaints were pending with the Lokayukta against the CM over utilisation of the distress relief fund. Higher education minister R Bindu, too, is facing a case pertaining to the re-appointment of Kannur University’s vice-chancellor.
Leader of the opposition V D Satheesan has written to the governor, urging him not to give his assent to the ordinance.
The ordinance was reportedly approved during the last cabinet meeting. Two high court verdicts had noted that the Lokayukta had only recommendatory jurisdiction.

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