The Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022, has been passed by the state legislature amidst a boycott led by the opposition. The term Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by M. Singhvi. In 1966, the first Administrative Reforms Commission approved the appointment of public functionaries including MPs. Recommended the establishment of two independent authorities – at the central and state level – to look into the complaints against
In 2005, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Veerappa Moily also recommended that the office of Lokpal should be established without delay. In some states, “Lokayuktas were already functioning when the 2013 Act” was passed. However, most of the states are without Lokayukta even after the 2013 Act.
Salient Features of the Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022:
(1) On the direction of the Lokayukta, the public servant has to resign.
(2) The Amendment Bill has made the Legislative Assembly the competent authority to review impeachment reports against the Chief Minister. In the case of MLAs, the competent authority shall be the Speaker of the House.
(3) The competent authority can now either reject or accept the report of the Ombudsman. If a cabinet minister is convicted in the Lokayukta report, the bill empowers the chief minister to review it.
(4) The Bill exempts political leaders from the purview of the Act. In addition, the Bill allows retired High Court judges to be appointed as Lokayuktas.
Who is Lokayukta?
Lokayuktas are the state counterparts to the Lokpal at the Centre. These institutions are “statutory bodies” without any constitutional status. If we talk about their role, then to deal with the complaints of corruption against some public functionaries in the states, the states have to establish Lokayuktas. The Supreme Court has also directed the states to take steps for the appointment of Lokayukta.
Constitution of Lokayukta
“The Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act” empowers the states to establish Lokayuktas by law to “deal with complaints related to corruption against public functionaries”.
Lokayuktas are appointed by the “Governor of the state”. At the time of appointment, the Governor, generally, consults the Chief Justice of the State High Court and the Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly. The composition of the Lokayukta “does not follow a uniform pattern across all states”.