SRINAGAR:  Process to set up first ever Lokayukta has hit a roadblock with high-powered committee deciding to seek legal opinion before implementing the Law Commission recommendations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Last month, Jammu and Kashmir government had constituted a five member committee headed by Secretary, Law, to look into recommendations of the Law Commission.   Director Anti-Corruption Bureau, Additional Secretary General Administration Department and two officers from Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs were made its members. The committee was asked to submit report by December 12.  

 

Few days before the deadline, the committee sought more time for submitting the report. “It needs some legal consultation over applicability of several sections of the Lokayukta in Jammu and Kashmir. Some believe that officials from other departments can’t conduct enquiries under Lokayukta Act. It has to look whether officials of other departments can conduct enquiries till inquiry wing is constituted by the Lokayukta,” said an official of Law Department.

The official said legal experts will help the committee to examine recommendations of the Law Commission. “The committee will seek suggestions from experts about the number of members required in the Lokayukta. Plus it will also try to figure out whether all members need to have a judicial background,” the official said.

Law Commission headed by Justice (retired) MK Hanjura had suggested that the Lokayukta shall consist of a chairperson, who is or has been a chief justice or judge of a high court and four members, out of who two shall be judicial members.

“Till the time inquiry wing is constituted by the Lokayukta, government shall make available such number of officers and other staff from such of its departments, as may be required, for conducting inquiry,” read the Law Commission recommendations.

Secretary Law Anchal Sethi said committee was in process to finalise the report. “It will take some time to finalise it,” Sethi said.

Except Jammu and Kashmir, Lokayukta Act was implemented across the country in 2013. According to Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, every state shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the state legislature, to deal with complaints relating to corruption against public functionaries, within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act.

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