[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Jul 9: In a record of sorts, the Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly passed five bills, including the Arunachal Pradesh Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in less than thirty minutes on Tuesday.
With the exception of Congress MLA Ninong Ering, who spoke on the Lokayukta amendment bill, none of the other members spoke, even as Speaker Pasang D Sona, as is routine, asked if any member was willing to speak.
It is understood that a whip had been issued to the BJP members, asking them to vote in favour of the bills, leading to the members not uttering a word other than ayes to pass the bills.
The members of the NPP, the JD (U) and the Congress (other than Ering) also kept quiet.
The Arunachal Pradesh Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Arunachal Pradesh Goods & Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Arunachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation Bill, 2019, the Arunachal Pradesh Protection of Medical Service Personnel & Medical Service Institution (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Bill, 2019, and the Arunachal Pradesh State Higher Education Council Bill, 2019, had been introduced on Monday.
Lokayukta bill a toothless tiger: Ering
Speaking on the Arunachal Pradesh Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to amend the Arunachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act, 2014, Ering said if the Lokayukta is not empowered to investigate or prosecute, it would be akin to a toothless tiger.
“We should give all the power to the Lokayukta,” he said, terming it a powerful weapon against corruption.
The MLA said there was no point having a Lokayukta that would simply enquire and put matters in cold storage.
Bill to weaken Lokayukta?
The Lokayukta or the anti-corruption ombudsman organisation shall have its jurisdiction, among other things, on the current and former chief ministers and others who have held or are holding government offices.
Its role, however, is just to enquire, making it incapable of actually curbing corruption.
A reading of the bill makes it amply clear that the Lokayukta will be just another institution not sure of what its role will be.
The reason given for the amendment is curious: “Taking into account the fact that the separation of the judiciary from the executive in the state is in a nascent stage and the state is predominantly a tribal state and many administration are based on customary laws and traditions and it is yet to fully develop modern administration ethos and structure, the government has reexamined other provisions of the Arunachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act, 2014, in its totality and found that there is need to amend some more provisions, so as to make the Lokayukta successful to achieve its goal.”
The bill defeats the whole purpose of having a free and strong Lokayukta, and it makes the intent of the government clear – use the customary laws and traditions as an excuse to weaken the bill.
Home Minister Bamang Felix, seeking the passage of the bill in his statement of object and reasons, said, “The Arunachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act, 2014 (Act No 7 of 2014) provides for composition of Lokayukta, with a chairperson and two other members, and the members shall be from APST with at least one woman. However, at present there is no serving or retired high court judge from APST and, therefore, the state Lokayukta cannot be constituted if both the members are to be from APST category, and it may be difficult to get a woman candidate as provided in the act.”
Quotes of the day
1. Not even a single pole is there: JD (U)’s Hayeng Mangfi, alleging farcical implementation of the RGGVY in Chayangtajo.
2. Poll nehi hain, line nehi hain, woh sach hain. Chori ho geya: DCM Mein, who is also the power minister, in his response to RGGVY in Chayangtajo.
3. RGGVY, DDUGJY fail ho geya. Jo fail ho geya uska alternative kiya hai?: JD (U)’s Jikke Tako.
4. Medical ka andar bojar jaisa hone se nehi hoga: Health Minister Alo Libang on eviction of pharmacies from the TRIHMS.
5. We are an oxygen state: Congress MLA Ninong Ering, taking part in the CAMPA discussion.
6. Department humko rent nehi diya: Transport Minister Nakap Nalo, unhappy that rent has not been paid to the department after requisition of buses by other departments.
7. Mera waha bachcha tha, mera waha bachcha hai, mera waha bachcha rehega: BJP’s Phurpa Tsering, clearly miffed that a school in his constituency has been closed even though there are students there.
8. Please get it corrected: Speaker PD Sona to Health Minister Alo Libang, pointing out that there was a spelling mistake in the bill.