RTI body for updated Lokayukta
Shillong, November 7: Meghalaya Right to Information, a body which has been demanding an effective anti corruption mechanism in Meghalaya for the last five years notes with dismay over the state government’s attempt to appoint Lokayukta in Meghalaya based on a toothless and anti-people Meghalaya Lokayukta and Uplokayukta Act of 2002 and the delayed rules for this act that were drafted 5 years later in 2007.
Issuing a statement in Shillong on Monday, the MRTI stated, “Now 5 years after the rules were drafted the government is rushing to make it operational this act. This law which the government had kept in cold storage for several years has been suddenly rediscovered as the government knows that the Lokayukta under this Meghalaya act would be a powerless body”.
Under the present law that the government of Meghalaya has passed, the Lokayukta would be a body with merely investigating and without recommendation powers. It has no power to initiate suo-moto investigation, asserted the MRTI saying that It has no power for prosecution or order punishment against corrupt public servants. The Lokayukta has no financial, judicial and administrative independence.
The chief Minister will be exempted from the purview of Lokayukta and no grievances against the chief minister, Ministers, MLAs and high level bureaucrats can come under the purview of this act.
As this law predates the Right to Information Act 2005, there are comic contradictions in the law. Whereas citizens can access Cabinet Deliberations under the RTI, the Lokayukta cannot. Moreover, bureaucracy will decide which documents can be made accessible to the Lokayukta for its investigation.
This act makes it difficult for citizens to file complaints. The complainant has to file an affidavit verified by a First Class Magistrate and also submit affidavits from any one who has provided him with evidence. If this was not all, the law also puts the life and liberty of the complainant in danger by disclosing the name of the complainant to the accused public servant. The only power that the lokayukta has is to punish a complainant, if s/he decides that a complaint is vexatious, frivolous or false. A Complainant can be imprisoned and fined by the Lokayukta thus discouraging any complaint.
MRTI strongly feels that this law ought to be repealed or at least amended. MRTI demands that government stop appointment of powerless Lokayukta.
MRTI has already submitted memorandums to the government outlining the bare minimums which any effective anti corruption law should have. MRTI is also working on a draft law which it shall be presenting to the govt.