The state government is mulling legislation to make the Lokayukta virtually toothless. The government has sent an ordinance to the governor in this regard. Opposition leader VD Satheesan alleged that the move was aimed at preventing the Lokayukta's verdicts and observations from creating headaches for the government.
The new legislation is aimed at allowing the government to accept or reject the Lokayukta rulings. An amendment is also being made to remove the requirement for a former Supreme Court judge to be appointed to the Lokayukta and to make provisions to appoint former High Court judges as well.
One recent incident in the background is that of Minister KT Jaleel who had resigned following the Lokayukta verdict. The Lokayukta had informed the government that KT Jaleel was not eligible to continue as a minister. The High Court has generally welcomed the Lokayukta's verdicts. On the basis of all this, the government is preparing for some shake-up in the Lokayukta.
In the ordinance, the government states that the Lokayukta verdict can be accepted or rejected by the government. As of now, the Lokayukta can rule that those in power are not entitled to remain in office if allegations of corruption against them are proven. But with the new provisions kicking in, If the Lokayukta issues verdicts against those holding ministerial posts, the Chief Minister or the Governor may accept of reject the verdict by holding a hearing. The government is preparing for such legislation.
Currently, the Lokayukta is functioning on the strength of a law passed by the Assembly. Therefore, the state government can make the Lokayukta irrelevant. Once the ordinance is signed by the Governor, the Lokayukta will no longer have the existing powers. But all eyes are now on the governor about what stand he will take on such a critical amendment. Opposition leader VD Satheesan has demanded that the governor should not approve the ordinance. He has also written a letter to the Governor to this effect.