BHUBANESWAR: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Odisha Government to complete the process for appointment of the Lokayukta within two months.The directive came after Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi submitted a status report on the initiative taken by the State Government in this regard. The apex court had earlier directed the Chief Secretary to submit a status report on steps taken for the appointment of a Lokayukta before July 10. The State Government on Monday had issued two separate gazette notifications on formation of a ‘search committee’ for appointment of the Lokayukta and implementation of the Lokayukta Act.
However, while the opposition Congress has come down heavily for the delay in implementing the Act, the ruling BJD on Tuesday said the order of the Supreme Court will be complied with. Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and Congress veteran Narsingh Mishra wondered what the Odisha Government was doing for the last three years though the Lokayukta got the Presidential approval in February, 2015. “It took the State Government three years to implement the Act. How many years will it take to appoint the Lokayukta?,” he asked.
Mishra said the State Government should now assure the people that it will complete the process of appointment of Lokayukta within two months as directed by the Supreme Court. “The Government should also announce that it will file a correction to the affidavit filed by it in the Supreme Court earlier,” he said. Government chief whip in the Assembly Amar Prasad Satpathy, however, said the process for implementation of the Lokayukta Act has already started and order of the Supreme Court will be complied with. Odisha had become the first State in the country to pass the Odisha Lokayukta Bill in the Assembly on February 14, 2014, after the Lokpal Bill was passed in Parliament in December 2013. However, the State Government had not issued a gazette notification in this regard.
The delay in issuing the gazette notification and a false affidavit allegedly filed by the State Government in the Supreme Court in this regard was raised by the opposition Congress and BJP members in the budget session of the Assembly on April 27, 2018. The opposition members had accused the State Government of misleading the Supreme Court on the issue. Following the undue delay in implementation of the Act, the apex court had directed the State Government to file affidavit on its progress on April 12 this year. In response to the order, the Odisha Government had filed the affidavit. But the opposition Congress and BJP cornered the Government in the House over its response to the court.
Announce the date, BJP tells Govt
Criticising the delay in implementation of the Lokayukta Act in Odisha, the BJP has asked the State Government to announce by which date the process for appointment of Lokayukta will be over. In a statement, BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra asked the State Government when will the search committee will be constituted and when will it submit its report.