Congress talks of strong Lokpal, its govt in U'khand not in sync
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Even as the Congress continues to assert that it is committed to get the amended Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 passed in Parliament, its government in Uttarakhand is scouting for legal ways to avoid implementing the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act, 2013, hailed by the erstwhile Team Anna as "cent per cent identical" to the Janlokpal Bill proposed by it.
On Saturday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi pledged his party's support for bringing in an effective Lokpal Bill, saying the same has "national importance" in fighting corruption.
Passed by the Uttarakhand Assembly on November 3, 2011, the landmark legislation received Presidential assent on September 3 this year but the state government is yet to initiate steps to appoint the Lokayukta and other staff. In fact, the state government is planning to bring amendments to water down some clauses in the Act, for which it is also in touch with the Centre.
The Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act, passed when the B C Khanduri-led BJP government was in power in the hill state, is the only anti-corruption legislation that was hailed by Anna Hazare, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and AAP founder member Prashant Bhushan.
Sources told The Indian Express that Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna is not keen to implement the law as he has problem with some of its clauses, particularly the one that puts the CM office under the purview of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
Sometime back, he also met Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal to seek guidance on how to avoid implementing the law. During his discussions, Bahuguna also questioned the constitutionality of having the subordinate judiciary under the purview of the state Act.
Sibal is learnt to have suggested to Bahuguna to bring a Bill to amend the Act passed by the previous Assembly.
"It is ironical that when all big Congress leaders are repeatedly talking of getting a strong Lokpal Bill passed in Parliament, the Congress government in Uttarakhand is refusing to implement the law passed by the previous Assembly. The Bill that my government got passed in the Assembly provided for strongest possible lokpal in the state, something that could be the model for the entire country. But the current Chief Minister wants to dilute the law. This is just another example of Congress double-speak on the issue of fighting corruption. But I don't think the people will tolerate any such attempt," said Khanduri.
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