A 'Transparent' Lokayukta?
The positive aspect of the clarion call for a Lokpal, is that it has found a welcome impact on other states of the country, and taken up by Civil Society groups and social activists. There is no doubt of the deepening and wide ramifications of the India against Corruption movement., on diverse parts of the country.
In Meghalay the Legislative Assembly passed the Lokayukta bill on the 14th December 2012 amidst acrimony, with the Opposition staging a walk out only to come back meekly. The winter session was called for three days, and the bill passed in an apparent hurry on the third day. Opposition parties claimed that there was hardly any time for them to study the document, vocal among them being Conrad Sangma and Paul Lyngdoh. Most of them claimed that it was a replication of what was drafted in 2002. This was also echoed by the Civil Society leaders, who were waiting outside, some of them were also present to watch the proceedings.
It is noteworthy that 19 such organizations are spearheading a movement for a transparent and effective Lokayukta, on the lines of Karnataka and Uttarakhand. They have been asking for a Lokayukta, for the past few months, and the state government was indeed under duress to work out something. Prominent among these groups are the Meghalaya Right To Information Movement ( MRTM) . It is very important to understand the bacdrop in the context of the state. The Right To Information Movement began in Meghalaya way back in the mid nineties, when the other parts of the country had either not, or just about woken to such consciousness. Meghalaya however had taken a lead in this regard and the government was compelled to take a stand, and accept it in principle.
The developments on the 14th were scurried, and there was an apparent hurry by the government to pass the bill, which it did, with elections in the state around the corner. But members of the opposition, thought it was an eye wash, social activists say that no member of these groups are accomodated in the committee. A brief look at the salent features of the bill indicate that many things have been done routinely, although the Chief Minister claims that this office has been included under the purview of the Act. However grade Four emplyees have not been included, and the NGOs say that this should have been done. This point is worth pondering upon, because corruption can also be bottom up in the most vertical way, and we simply cannot comprehend, in a country such as ours, as to who could be a part of unholy alliances.
There is also a fairly long list of people ' exempted ' which includes the judiciary, and there includes clauses such as, no case over ten years old can be raised. This is a big question mark
For a state which is forty years old, and which had over forty governments in power, corruption has become endemic, and the worst type of floor crossing has taken place only to procure ministerial berths. Moreover at times cabinet positions have been included in a small legislative assembly only to accomodate legislators with some position, or power.
But this time the Civil Society groups are as adamantine as the proverbial rock.
Against this backdrop there is a need for critical study as to how other state governments take this ticklish problem, head on, to an acceptable decision, or optimistically speaking- solution!
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Ananya S Guha
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