Lok Ayukta amendment protects corrupt ministers

| FEBRUARY 02, 2013, 11:23 AM IST

The Karnataka Lok Ayukta led the movement of political andbureaucratic cleansing by exposing the institutionalised corruption of theReddy brothers ,which finally sent then to jail. Goa’s attempt to emulateKarnataka and set itself on a path of redemption through its most potent tool –the Lok Ayukta – has suffered a self-imposed jolt. The Goa Lok Ayukta (firstamendment bill) 2013, does the opposite of giving the Lok Ayukta teeth. Itproposes to extract a perfectly functioning tooth to set in motion a process ofa corruption infection.

Here’s how. The amendment states that the Lok Ayukta’srecommendation to remove a corrupt minister, if convicted of corruption, willbe automatically rejected if not accepted by the Chief Minister in threemonths. This has been viewed with,  andrightly, as an attempt to leave the onus of punishment completely on the ChiefMinister and its added corollary – the onus of setting free a corrupt minister.

The significance, and shock, of this is immense. Sub section5 of Section 16A of the amendment states, “If the declaration under sub section1 (of declaring that a public functionary should not continue in office) is notaccepted within a period of three months from the date of receipt of thereport, it shall deemed to have been rejected on the expiry of the said periodof three months”. In the Karnataka Lok Ayukta Act the word “rejected” isreplaced by the word “accepted”. In law and jurisprudence and by associationpolitics and governance, one word changes destinies and more importantlyhighlights intent. In Karnataka, the intent is to give Lok Ayukta teeth. InGoa, the amendment seems to be an attempt to pull those teeth out. The sum andsubstance of this is simple. If the Chief Minister decides to do nothing forthree months on the Lok Ayukta’s declaration that a corrupt minister (as themost significant public functionary) should resign, then the declaration of theLok Ayukta gets automatically rejected. In Karnataka, the Chief Minister isforced to act. He has to either reject and have very strong grounds to do so oraccept. If he does neither for three months, then the Lok Ayukta’s declarationstands.

The Chief Minister of Goa must explain what the rationalebehind this amendment is. It is possible we do not know, because the rightthinking mind believes that the Chief Minister who has made zero tolerance tocorruption  the corner stone of hisgovernance, would not be like to be seen as someone who is giving hisanti-corruption army less ammunition. Before activists and concerned Goans taketo the streets, let the Chief Minister have his say. If he does not, then Goanswill have the right to, like the Karnataka Lok Ayukta Act, accept the “declaration”that the Goa Lok Ayukta Act shields the corrupt.

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