PANJIM: Following several adverse reports against the government by outgoing Lokayukta P K Misra, the State Cabinet on Wednesday has approved several amendments to the Goa Lokayukta Act which could end up with the institution being reduced to a “toothless tiger”.
The Cabinet on Wednesday approved nine amendments to the Goa Lokayukta Act 2011, which will weaken the institution.
The Cabinet approved the proposal to by way of omissions, substitutions and additions to sections 2, 3, 9.10, 13, 16, 16A, 17 and 27 to the Lokayukta Act.
As per sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Principal Act, the Lokayukta shall be a person who has ‘held the office of a Judge of the Supreme Court, or of a Chief Justice of the High Court while a person to be appointed as the Upa-Lokayukta shall be a person who has held the office of a Judge of the High Court or is qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the High Court’.
The government says it is difficult to obtain willingness from eligible retired Supreme Court Judges or retired High Court Chief Justices for appointment as Goa Lokayukta. Hence they propose to allow retired High Court judges to be eligible for appointment as Lokayukta. Consequentially, it is proposed to amend the Act to restrict the eligibility of Upa-Lokayukta to an eminent person of an impeccable integrity and outstanding ability having special knowledge and expertise of not less than 20 years in matters relating to public administration or finance, including insurance and banking or law or anti-corruption policy or management.
The government has also proposed an amendment by addition of para 10A statutory matters, etc which says the Lokayukta cannot challenge a judgement.
“Nothing in this Act shall permit the Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta to examine the correctness of any Judgement or order passed by any Court of Law, Tribunal, Statutory Authority or Officer, under a Statute, or to decide any issue, question or dispute which is required to be settled, decided or adjudicated upon by a competent Court or Authority created under any statute,” the amendment states.
Amendment to Section 13 (1) says that the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta, after a preliminary inquiry find that there are reasonable grounds for conducting a detailed investigation and propose to conduct such an investigation, he shall forward a copy of the complaint, along with its enclosures to the public functionary and the competent authority concerned and proceed to make a detailed investigation. “Provided that if prior sanction of any authority is required under any law for the time being in force for such investigation then, such prior sanction shall be obtained from such authority before initiation of such investigation.”
Lokayukta reports not mandatory or recommendatory?
Further, on reports, a section has been omitted, which says “Lokayukta or the Upa-Lokayukta, shall by a report in writing recommend to the public functionary and the competent authority concerned, that such injustice or undue hardship shall be remedied or redressed and as such report shall be acted upon as far as possible within 60 days and a report shall be sent to the Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta accordingly.”
Amendment to Section 16(2): The competent authority shall examine the report forwarded to it under sub section (1), and within three months of the date of receipt of the report, intimate or cause to be intimated to the Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta the action taken or proposed to be taken or the reasons for refusal to take action, on the basis of the report.
Amendment to Section 16(3): The following sub-section shall be substituted: Section 16 (3) If the Lokayukta or the Upa-Lokayukta is satisfied with the action taken or proposed to be taken or the reasons for refusal to take action intimated to him under sub-section (2) by the Competent Authority, he shall close the case under information to the complainant, if any, the public functionary and the competent authority, but where he is not satisfied and if he considers that the case so deserves, he may make a special report upon the case to the Governor and also inform the competent authority concerned and the complainant, if any.”
Section 16A: Public functionary to vacate office
Section 16 A (3): If the declaration under sub-section (1) is not rejected within such period of three months, it shall be deemed to have been accepted by the Competent Authority, on the expiry of the said period of three months and the fact of such deemed acceptance of declaration shall immediately be intimated by the Lokayukta or the Upa-Lokayukta, as the case may be, to the Competent Authority and the public functionary concerned.
Section 16 A (4): If the declaration under sub-section (1) is in respect of a Chief Minister or a Minister, accepted or deemed to have been accepted by the Competent Authority, he may resign from his office.
Section 16 A (5): With effect from the date of intimation of acceptance or deemed acceptance of the declaration, notwithstanding anything contained in any law, order, notification, rule or contract of appointment, the public functionary,
Amendment to Section 16 A: In section 16A of the Principal Act:
Sub-section (3) and (4) shall be omitted: In sub-section (5), the words 'or deemed acceptance shall be omitted’.
Section 17: Initiation of Prosecution
Section 17: If, after investigation into any complaint, the Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta, as the case may be, is satisfied that the public functionary has committed a criminal offence and that he should be prosecuted in a court of law for such an offence, then he may pass an order to the effect and the appropriate authority shall initiate prosecution against the public functionary concerned: Provided that if prior sanction of any authority is required under any law for the time being in force, for such prosecution, then, such prior sanction shall be obtained from such authority before initiation of such prosecution.
Amendment to Section 17: For Section 17 of the Principal Act, the following section shall be substituted, namely: 17. Initiation of prosecution. If, after investigation into any complaint the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta, as the case may be, is satisfied that the public functionary has committed a criminal offence and that he should be prosecuted in a court of law for such an offence, then the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta, as the case may be, may pass an order directing the initiation of prosecution against the public functionary concerned: Provided that before implementation of the direction for prosecution, prior sanction from the competent Authority shall be obtained for such prosecution against the public functionary: Provided further that nothing in this section shall be construed as enabling the Lokayukta or Upa-Lokayukta to exercise powers under sub-section (3) of Section 156 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (Central Act 2 of 1974).