Bengal hasnít appointed Lokayukta since 2009


Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay

Even as the Trinamool Congress supported the Lokpal Bill at the Centre, in West Bengal, where it came to power two years and half ago, it has not appointed a Lokayukta since 2009.

The Left Front government passed the Lokayukta Act in 2003 and, accordingly, Justice (retd) Samaresh Banerjee was made the first during the Left rule ó and has remained the last ó Lokayukta of the state. The post fell vacant when Banerjee retired in 2009

"I have no idea when a new Lokayukta will be appointed here. It is a political decision. Let the new law come at the Centre and we will see,'' A R Bardhan, principal secretary, department of personnel and administrative reforms, told The Sunday Express.

After she had come to power, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had reportedly told her officials that she would wait for a Lokpal Bill to be cleared in Delhi first and then take up the issue of appointing a Lokayukta here.

According to sources, she wanted to effect an amendment to the Act. She was, in fact, learnt to be averse to a provision of the 2013 Act that brings the Chief Minister under its purview.

Till 2009, the commission had 15 staff members, including the chairman. Now, the commission's office at Bhabani Bhavan has only three members, including the officer-on-special duty, who holds the dual charge of secretary, information commission.

The office is going to be shifted to Khadya Bhavan at Mirza Ghalib Street from January 1, 2014 where all the furniture and equipment have already been moved.

Even the complaints that continue to trickle in even five years after the last Lokayukta left, have all been put in big sacks and sent to the new office.

"If at all a new Lokayukta is appointed we will open the sacks and see which of them can be investigated,'' an official of the state government told The Sunday Express.

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