The Gujarat Lokayukta Bill, which curtails the primacy of the governor and the chief justice of the High Court in appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman, was on Tuesday passed by the Assembly amid protests from the Opposition Congress.
The Congress was quick to dub the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill 2013 “as a ploy by the Narendra Modi Government to keep corruption under wraps”.
The legislation was passed by a majority vote after the Congress members walked out of the House.
The central BJP, however, defended the Bill, and argued that it didn’t seek to curtail the governor’s powers. It also argued that the Bill had brough the Chief Minister within the ambit of the Bill.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said that the new Bill “will not disturb the appointment” of Justice R A Mehta, and dismissed suggestions that the Bill had taken away the powers of the governor.
“The governor will work as per advice of the Cabinet. Hope there will be informed debate on the Bill,” she said.
The Bill’s critics, however, contended that the powers of the governor and the chief justice had been “curtailed”. Other than that, the Bill’s character has remained same as the existing Lokayukta Act 1986.
Under the existing Lokayukta Act, the power of selection of Lokayukta rests with the governor and the chief justice of the High Court.
Leader of Opposition Shankarsinh Vaghela opposed the Bill saying the state government “is afraid that Lokayukta Justice Mehta will expose the corruption of the government”.
Vaghela alleged the Bill is “just a delaying tactic so that they do not have to appoint Justice Mehta as Lokayukta”.