Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Lokayukta Bill 2018 was passed in the Assembly on Monday, amid protests by opposition parties, with the main opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its ally Congress walking out of the House alleging that it would be a “powerless" and “toothless" anti-corruption body.
The Lokayukta will consist of a chairman and four members. While the chairman should be current or former judge of the high court or should have served a minimum of 25 years in the field of anti-corruption, public administration, awareness, finance or law, two of the four members should have experience in the legal system.
DMK working president M.K. Stalin demanded that the bill be referred to a select committee, after it was tabled by D. Jayakumar, the minister for personnel and administrative reforms. When his demand was rejected, the DMK staged a walkout.
“The Assembly has passed a bill that lacks teeth. The local administration and government contracts have not been brought under the Lokayukta," Stalin said.
The bill tabled said that if a false complaint was lodged with the Lokayukta, the complainant will be punished with a fine of Rs1 lakh, along with imprisonment of up to one year.
Earlier in the day, police had detained from outside the secretariat protesters who demanded that a public consultation be held before the bill is passed.
A bill like the Lokayukta, which aims to empower citizens, should be passed only after a consultation with the public, the NGO Arappor Iyakkam said on Sunday.
In April, the Supreme Court had asked 12 states, including Tamil Nadu, to explain why the government had not appointed Lokayuktas.
The bench slammed Tamil Nadu when its counsel said it has a vigilance department. “Do you think the vigilance department is enough and there is no need of Lokayukta in your state?" asked the bench, adding that it expects the state to take necessary action and file a compliance report.
The matter has been posted for 10 July.
The Lokayukta Act was passed by the central government in 2013 and was notified by the Centre in 2014. Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, states that every state shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta.