The Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed the newly proposed Lokayukta Bill in the amended form with incorporation of an additional clause, empowering Lokayukta with powers of contempt of court at par with the High Court.
Congress did not participate in the debate. In the debate, Chief Minister claimed that Himachal Lokayukta bill is strong as compared to Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill. Drawing a comparison between the Himachal and Uttarakhand Bills, Dhumal said that the “Uttarakhand Bill is weak and has not been given assent by the President so far due to some legal hitches but our Bill is fully constitutional, comprehensive and stronger”. He further added that the Uttarakhand Bill covers only the officers posted in the state but Himachal Bill covers all officers. The Bill will replace the Lokayukta Act, 1983.
Lokayukta will be a retired Supreme Court Judge of Chief Justice of High Court, and he will be assisted by two Up-lokayukts (deputy Lokayukta).
The power to initiate an enquiry against Chief Minister, ministers, CPSs, MLAs and officers of the rank of Secretary and above and heads of the Department would vest in Lokayukta but no action would be initiated without the permission of Full Bench of Lokayukta. Further, the enquiry, investigations and prosecution shall continue in case the complainant dies and no complaint shall be allowed to be withdrawn unless the Lokayukta is fully satisfied that the complainant had made a bonafide mistake. However, the prosecution sanction in case of the Chief Minister would be accorded by the state Assembly, against MLAs by the Speaker and against Ministers, officers of the rank of secretary to the government and above and heads of the department would be given by the Chief Minister.
The prosecution sanction against judicial officers would be accorded by the high court. A provision to keep the identity of “whistle blowers” secret and providing them security has also been made while in case of frivolous complaints a fine up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment of one year has also been made and no complaint would be allowed to be withdrawn unless the Lokayukta was satisfied that these has been a “bonafide mistake”.
The official amendment empowering the Lokayukta with powers of contempt of Court on par with high court was carried and the Bill was passed.