CM to be outside the purview of West Bengal's Lokayukta Bill
Despite her claims of being a crusader for honest and corruption-free governance, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken her office out of the purview of the West Bengal Lokayukta Bill 2018. The Bill is set to be placed in the West Bengal Assembly on 28 July.
Section 9(a) of the Bill mentions that “notwithstanding anything contained in any of the provisions of this Act shall not investigate into any matter involved in or arising from or connected with any allegation of corruption against the chief minister relating to public order.”
The Bill also stipulates that if any action has to be taken against a public servant, the state government's permission has to be taken.
Section 9 (b) of the Bill mentions that “notwithstanding anything contained in any of the provisions of this Act shall not investigate into any matter any of the complaint against a public servant without prior approval of the state government.”
Despite criticism that it would harm the fight against corruption, the state government has defended these amended clauses.
According to state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee, “It is necessary to make some amendments in the Bill 2003 for effective implementation. In the West Bengal Lokayukta Bill 2003, there was no provision for taking action against public servants accused of corruption, but the amended Bill says that the Lokayukta can take action against public servants after taking permission from the state government”.
Justice Samaresh Banerjee was the first Lokayukta of West Bengal. After his retirement, the Left Front government and later the Trinamool Congress government did not appoint any Lokayukta.
Opposition parties have said that the new amendments are “black clauses” and they would not be supporting the Bill.
Congress leader Abdul Mannan said, “We oppose the clauses in the Bill which state that action cannot be taken against chief minister if he or she is accused of corruption. It will end up shielding the corrupt”.
CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty, said “The Bill will only have a negative impact in the minds of people".
It may be mentioned that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had brought his office under the purview of the Lokayukta.