Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday decided to implement another pre-poll promise. The Cabinet approved the introduction of Punjab Lokayukta Bill, 2020, which will cover all the levels of public functionaries, up to the Chief Minister.
The Cabinet decision repeals the existing Punjab Lokpal Act, 1996, and the new legislation will be applicable to the Chief Minister, Ministers, non-officials/officials of all the public offices, with an aim of the further enhancing governance and checking corruption.
The sweeping reform measure envisages an autonomous body to inquire into the grievances and all the allegations against the public functionaries in the state and to make provisions for the appointment of Lokayukta and for the matters connected therewith. The Lokayukta shall have the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908. Also, it will provide for prosecution in case of a false complaint.
The prosecution of the Chief Ministers and MLAs can be sanctioned only with the 2/3rd majority of the House as per the new legislation. Further, all sanctions by the Assembly, whether or not permission to prosecute is granted, will be binding on the Lokpal.
Meanwhile, all the complaints will be scrutinized by a screening committee of Lokpal before issuance of the notice, an official spokesperson said while giving details of the key provisions of the Bill. The screening committee will also take the Government’s opinion on the matter.
The legislation shall conduct a parallel probe into a complaint against any officer/public functionary if an inquiry would be conducted in the matter by the Lokpal. Similarly, the Lokpal will not have the authority to conduct a parallel inquiry of the matter that will already be under the investigation by the Government.