West Bengal Assembly passes Lokayuta Amednment Bill but keeps CM out of its purview for public order matters
The West Bengal Assembly on Thursday passed the Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2018, keeping the chief minister out of its purview in matters relating to public order.
Kolkata: The West Bengal Assembly on Thursday passed the Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2018, keeping the chief minister out of its purview in matters relating to public order.
The Bill, however, allows the Lokayukta to investigate into matters relating to the chief minister on the other 58 subjects under the State List, with the approval of two-third of the members of the assembly present and voting. There are 59 subjects in the State List.
Speaking on the Bill, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stated that recruitment of police, deployment of forces and any other emergency situations would be regarded as public order.
The amended Bill, she said, has been prepared in accordance with the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 passed by the Center and the West Bengal Lokayukta Act, 2003.
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP, Congress and CPM opposed the Bill, alleging that efforts were being made to turn the Lokayukta into a "farce". The TMC supremo said a section of the media and opposition parties were "spreading canards" that the chief minister has been kept out of the purview of the entire West Bengal Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill.
It is not true as only matters related to public order have been exempted, she said. "Other subjects under the State List are under the purview of the Lokayukta," the chief minister said. "The people of this state will decide my credentials. For me, the credentials are the biggest thing that a politician can possess. I have been elected by the people. Those who themselves are on the wrong side should not question my credentials," she asserted. According to the Bill, the Lokayukta can initiate an investigation into a complaint against a public servant only after prior approval from the state government.
Referring to the Opposition's criticism, Banerjee said there was always the provision to change the Bill by amending it in the assembly. "If you feel that this is a weak Bill...then when you
(CPM) formed the government, you amended it according to your own need," she said.
Opposing the Bill, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, "Why has the chief minister kept herself out of the ambit of the Bill? Why is she afraid? I think we politicians should rise on this occasion and set a precedence by preparing a strong law in dealing with corruption".
Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan (Congress) and CPM legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty too opposed the Bill and demanded that the chief minister be brought under the purview of Lokayukta. Besides, there should be a proper explanation regarding the issue of "public order" in the Bill, they said. "The Bill is a complete farce. The TMC government has deliberately kept the matter of public order vague so that it can change the explanation according to its whims and fancies," Chakraborty said.
The apex court directed reassessment of deployment of paramlitary forces in critical areas and warned of coercive action if the directives are not followed scrupulously
The state's education minister said that classes for students of junior and middle schools will continue in the online mode for the time being
Bengal became the second state after Punjab where such a resolution has been tabled and passed