Maharashtra Lokayukta Act, 2022


    In News

    • Recently, The Maharashtra Assembly unanimously passed the Maharashtra Lokayukta Act, 2022. 
      • The Act will now be presented in the Legislative Council for approval.

    About the Act

    • Anna Hazare Committee report:
      • The Maharashtra government has approved the Anna Hazare Committee report of introducing Lokayukta in the State along the lines of the Centre’s Lokpal law.
    • Key highlights:
      • The Act will give additional powers to the Lokayukta to direct state agencies to probe public servants, including the chief minister and state ministers.
        • The Act will give additional powers to not only recommend action but also direct state agencies to undertake the investigation.
      • Process of investigation: 
        • As per the Act, any present or former chief minister of Maharashtra can be investigated by the Lokayukta only if the motion for the same is passed by the Legislative Assembly by a two-thirds majority
        • Requirement of approvals:
          • For present or former ministers:
            • Approval of the governor and views of the group of ministers appointed by the governor is required to conduct an inquiry into present or former ministers
          • For Legislative member:
            • The approval of the Council chairperson or Assembly speaker is required to probe the Legislative member
          • For IAS officer:
            • The draft has even brought IAS officials under the scope of the probe but the Lokayukta will require the approval of the chief minister and the views of the chief secretary to initiate the probe. 
          • For municipal corporator or sarpanch:
            • The Lokayukta will require approval from the minister concerned to probe even the municipal corporator or sarpanch.
        • Significance of approvals:
          • The filters will ensure no false complaints are filed
      • The Anti-corruption Act:
        • The Anti-corruption Act will be made a part of this law.
      • Composition:
        • The Lokayukta will be a retired chief justice of the High Court or a Supreme Court (judge).
        • The Lokayukta will have a team of five people including retired judges.

    More about Lokayukta

    • About:
      • The Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority constituted at the state level.
      • It investigates allegations of corruption and maladministration against public servants and is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.
    • Origin: 
      • The origin of the Lokayukta can be traced to the Ombudsman in Scandinavian countries.
      • The Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Late Morarji Desai in 1966 recommended the creation of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the states.
      • The State of Maharashtra is the first and pioneer State in India to introduce the concept of Lokayukta by enacting the Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act, 1971.
    • Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013:
      • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States.
      • The Act states that not less than 50% of the members of the Lokpal should be from among persons belonging to the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
      • The same rules apply to members of the search committee
      • Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.
      • These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status. 
    • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016:
      • The Bill amends the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 in relation to the declaration of assets and liabilities by public servants
      • It requires a public servant to declare his assets and liabilities, and that of his spouse and dependent children. 
      • Such declarations must be made to the competent authority within 30 days of entering the office.
    • Selection, Appointment and Removal of Lokayukta:
      • The Lokayukta is usually a former High Court Chief Justice or former Supreme Court judge and has a fixed tenure.
      • The Chief Minister selects a person as the Lokayukta after consultation with 
        • The High Court Chief Justice, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, 
        • The Chairman of the Legislative Council, 
        • Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and the 
        • Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council. 
        • The appointment is then made by the Governor.
      • Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly.
    • Work and Functions:
      • The Lokayukta (sometimes referred to as the institution itself) investigates allegations of corruption and maladministration against public servants and is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.

    Way ahead

    • In order to tackle the problem of corruption, the institution of the ombudsman should be strengthened both in terms of functional autonomy and the availability of manpower. 
    • The appointment of Lokpal in itself is not enough. The government should also address the issues based on which people are demanding a Lokpal.
    • The slogan adopted by the government of “less government and more governance”, should be followed in letter and spirit.

    Source: TH