Tripura passes Bill to check corruption at policy-making level

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Agartala, Nov 25 (UNI) In a bid to check corruption among public functionaries, the Tripura Assembly has unanimously passed the Lokayukta (State Vigilance) Bill.

All elected representatives and public functionaries, including the Chief Minister, Cabinet ministers, members of state Assembly and elected representatives of local government bodies, would come under the Act.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said the Act and rules were prepared keeping objectives and provisions of Lokpal Bill in mind, which had not yet been passed in Parliament.

Terming the passing of the Bill yesterday as a landmark move of the Left Front government to contain corruption and financial irregularities, Mr Sarkar said Tripura had become one of the few states of the country, which passed the Bill to maintain transparency at policy-making level.

''Tripura Lokayukta Bill, 2008, intends to establish the institution of Lokayukta to enquire and investigate the complaints by citizens against public functionaries regarding any sort of corruption and misappropriation,'' Mr Sarkar said.

Under the provision, the investigating agency would have to take permission from the Chief Minister before initiating inquiry against any Minister on corruption charge and approval from the Assembly if the corruption charges are levelled against the Chief Minister.

According to the proposed Act, a sitting or retired judge of a High Court would be appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Chief Minister, Speaker and Leader of Opposition to head the Lokayukta and the maximum punishment would be one-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Ratan Lal Nath expressed concern at the way Tripura Tribal Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) was given a safe passage.

He contended that the Bill will not be applicable against Chief Executive Member (CEM) or any other Executive Member.

The draft Lokayukta Bill was introduced during last budget session and then sent to select committee for detailed discussion to modify the shortcomings of the Bill. It would now be sent to President Pratibha Patil for her assent.

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