The Himachal Pradesh assembly Monday adopted a resolution to withdraw the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Bill of 2012, passed by the previous BJP government.The house passed the resolution, moved by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, by majority in the absence of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).The bill, passed April 6, 2012 by then BJP government headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal, was sent to the president but did not receive assent.At that time, the chief minister said the bill was "more strong and constitutional".Dhumal had said the bill gives the Lokayukta powers of contempt of court at par with the high court by incorporating a new clause.The bill covered all officials -- right from the chief minister to a ward panch (ward member in panchayat). Even complaints could be filed against the elected members of Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies.
Interestingly, the assembly Feb 21 this year referred to a house select committee the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act of 2014, which will give the ombudsman special powers to conduct independent inquiry and prosecution wings.Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had said the bill, which will repeal the existing Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act of 1983, should be referred to a select committee for consideration."As expressed by some members, we feel the bill should be referred to the select committee of Vidhan Sabha with some more amendments to make its provisions stronger and more effective," the chief minister had said in the assembly.
He said the government wanted that there should be serious discussions on the important bill.
"The opposition BJP has boycotted the proceedings in the entire session. We do not want to give them an opportunity to say that such an important bill was passed in the assembly in their absence," he had said.Later, talking to reporters, Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal said the Lokayukta bill was legally flawed.He said the bill contradicts section 197 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code and section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and violates section 311 of the constitution."The provisions in the bill could be challenged in the court of law," the former chief minister added.