[Lokayukta (Anti Corruption Commissioner) in Meghalaya was one of the best kept secrets. Meghalaya govt. had legislated a Meghalaya Lokayukta and Up Lokayukta Act in 2002 and kept it hidden from public view till 2007. It was by accident activists of Meghalaya Right to Information Movement in one of their meetings with the Chief Secretary about an anti-corruption commission spied it on his table. When asked, Chief Secretary innocently replied that there was a Lokayukta Act but no rules. Anyway rules or no rules, 2002 act was a terrible piece of legislation. Led by MRTIM, Campaign for Independent Lokayukta in Meghalaya came into being with at one time more than 20 organisations as part of it.
Under pressure Meghalaya govt. tried to amend 2002 act but Campaign rejected it and submitted a people’s draft of the bill instead. It was only in 2014, govt. finally passed a Lokayukta Act based on the people’s draft. But having a good law hasn’t meant that the institution of Lokayukta has been set up. Campaign for Independent Lokayukta in Meghalaya has served a deadline on the govt. for operationalising the Act.
Raiot presents a short guide on Meghalaya Lokayukta Act 2014 made by Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR). Guide is followed by the text of Meghalaya Lokayukta Act 2014 for you to download.]
What is a Lokayukta ?
Lokayukta is a body appointed under the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act 2014 to enquire into allegations of corruption by public servants and initiate prosecution against them.
It consists of a Chairperson and maximum 4 other members out of which fifty percent of the members will be Judicial members.
Who can be Lokayukta?
Chairperson – a person who has been a Chief Justice or Judge of High Court, An eminent person who has twenty five years experience in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management
Members – a person who has been a Judge of High Court, or is eligible to be High Court judge. An eminent person who has twenty five years experience in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
Who can’t be Lokayukta?
- MP, MLA, Member of District council, Municipality, Panchayat - Person connected to political party
- Person convicted of offence involving moral turpitude or dismissed from govt. service. - Less than 45 years of age
What are the perks of Lokayukta?
- Salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of Chairperson shall be of the Chief Justice of High court and the other members shall be of the Judge of High Court.
- After appointment Lokayukta cannot hold any office of profit, will stop doing business and practice any profession. Chairperson and Members cannot be reemployed in any job which is required by law to seek Governor’s signature. They also can not hold any office of profit. For five years they cannot contest elections.
What is the tenure of Lokayukta?
5 years or until s/he attains the age of seventy.
How will Lokayukta be selected?
Selection Committee – Chief Minister, Speaker of Assembly, Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice of High Court, Eminent person nominated by Governor.
Selection committee nominates a 5 member search committee having a special knowledge of anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
Search Committee will suggest a panel of names and out of the names suggested Selection Committee will nominate Chairperson and members.
What is the Jurisdiction of Lokayukta?
Lokayukta can investigate and prosecute any public servant against whom a complaint of corruption (as defined by Prevention of Corruption Act ) has been made. Every public servant is covered including:
- the Chief Minister or has been a Chief Minister;
- a Minister of the State or has been a minister
- a Member of the State Legislature or has been a MLA
- all officers and employees of the State, when serving or who has served, in connection with the affairs of the State
- all officers and employees of any body or Board or corporation or authority or company or society or trust or autonomous established by an Act of Parliament or of a State Legislature or wholly or partly financed by the State Government or controlled by it;
- any person who is or has been a director, manager, secretary or other officer of every other society or association of persons or trust wholly or partly financed or aided by the State Government
- any person who is or has been a director, manager, secretary or other officer of every other society or association of persons or trust or corporate, society, trust, association of persons, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability partnership in receipt of any donation from the public or from any foreign source under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 in excess of ten lakh rupees in a year
What Lokayukta can not enquire into?
Lokayukta shall not inquire into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any such allegation of corruption against any Member of the State Legislature in respect of anything said or a vote given by him in the State Legislature or any committee covered under the provisions contained in clause (2) of article 194 of the Constitution. But Lokayukta may inquire into any act or conduct of any person if such person is involved in the act of abetting, bribe giving or bribe taking.
What are the offences & penalties for corruption which Lokayukta can investigate and prosecute?
Lokayukta will investigate and prosecute all acts of corruption defined by Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. These offences and penalties are:
- Taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act, and if the public servant is found guilty shall be punishable with imprisonment which shall be not less than 6 months but which may extend to 5 years and shall also be liable to fine.
- Taking gratification in order to influence public servant, by corrupt or illegal means, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
- Taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
- Abetment by public servant of offences defined, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not les than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
- obtaining valuable thing without consideration from person concerned in proceeding or business transacted by such public servant, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not les than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
- Any public servant, who commits criminal misconduct shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than one year but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.
- Habitual committing of offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than two years but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.
What is corrupt conduct?
A public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct:
- if s/he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person for himself or for any other person any gratification other than legal remuneration as a motive or reward, or
- if s/he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain for himself or for any other person, any valuable thing without consideration or for a consideration which he knows to be inadequate from any person whom he knows to have been, or to be, or to be likely to be concerned in any proceeding or business transacted or about to be transacted by him, or having any connection with the official functions of himself or of any public servant to whom he is subordinate, or from any person whom he knows to be interested in or related to the person so concerned; or
- if s/he dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use any property entrusted to him or under his control as a public servant or allows any other person so to do; or
- if he or any person on his behalf, is in possession or has, at any time during the period of his office, been in possession for which the public servant cannot satisfactorily account, of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income
Who shall investigate the allegation of corruption and how shall guilty be prosecuted?
Lokayukta will have an independent Investigation and Prosecution wing and Special Courts shall be constituted to dispose of the cases of corruption charge-sheeted by Lokayukta.
How to make complaint? And how will Lokayukta proceed on complaints?
- The Lokayukta shall, on receipt of a complaint, first decide whether to proceed in the matter or close the same and if the Lokayukta decides to proceed further, it shall order the preliminary inquiry against any public servant by its Inquiry Wing or any agency to ascertain whether there exist a prima facie case for proceeding in the matter.
- During the preliminary inquiry the Inquiry Wing or any agency shall conduct a inquiry and on the basis of material, information and documents collected, seek the comments on the allegations made in the complaint from the public servant and competent authority and after obtaining the comments of the concerned public servant and competent authority, submit,within sixty days a report to the Lokayukta.
- A bench consisting of not less than three Members of the Lokayukta shall consider every report received from the Inquiry Wing and after giving an opportunity of being heard to the public servant, decide as to whether there exists a prima facie case, and make recommendations to proceed with one or more of the following actions, namely:—
(a) investigation by any agency (including any special investigation agency);
(b) initiation of the departmental proceedings or any other appropriate action against the concerned public servants by the competent authority
(c) closure of the proceedings against the public servant and take action to proceed against the complainant under section
- Every preliminary inquiry shall ordinarily be completed within a period of ninety days and for reasons to be recorded in writing, within a further period of ninety days from the date of receipt of the complaint.
- In case the Lokayukta decides to proceed to investigate into the complaint, it shall either direct any investigation agency to carry out the investigation and complete the investigation within a period of six months this period can be extended by Lokayukta to a further period not exceeding six months at a time for the reasons to be recorded in writing.
- A bench consisting of not less than three Members of the Lokayukta shall consider every report received by it from any investigation agency and may, decide as to file charge-sheet or closure report before the Special Court and or initiate the departmental proceedings or any other appropriate action against the concerned public servants by the competent authority.
- The Lokayukta may, after taking a decision on the filing of the charge-sheet, direct its Prosecution Wing to initiate prosecution in a Special Court.
Does Lokayukta need permission from the government to initiate enquiry or prosecution?
Lokayukta shall not need any prior sanction from any authority to initiate investigation or prosecution against the corrupt.
What are the other powers of Lokayukta?
- Search and seizure of documents
- Powers of civil court in certain cases
- Attachment of assets of Public servants
- Confiscation of assets, proceeds, receipts and benefits arisen or procured by means of corruption
- To recommend transfer or suspension of public servant connected with allegation of corruption
How can we find out whether Public Servant is enriching himself/herself through corruption?
Every public servant shall within a period of thirty days from the date on which he takes an oath and her office, furnish the information relating to—
(a) the assets of which he, his spouse and his dependent children are, jointly or severally, owners or beneficiaries;
(b) his liabilities and that of his spouse and his dependent children.
- Every public servant shall file with the competent authority an annual return of such assets and liabilities.
- The competent authority shall ensure that all such statements are published on the website
- If any public servant willfully fails to declare his assets; or gives misleading information in respect of such assets and is found to be in possession of assets not disclosed or in respect of which misleading information was furnished, then, such assets shall, unless otherwise proved, be presumed to belong to the public servant and shall be presumed to be assets acquired by corrupt means and can be seized.
How to complain against the members and officials of Lokayukta?
- The Lokayukta shall not inquire into any complaint made against the Chairperson or any Member.
- The Chairperson or any Member shall be removed from his office by order of the Governor on grounds of misbehaviour after the High Court investigates the allegation and finds it to be true.
- Governor will proceed with the complaint when there is a petition being signed by at least twenty members of the legislature or, on receipt of a petition made by a citizen of India
- The Governor may, by order, remove from the office, the Chairperson or any Member if the Chairperson or such Member
(a) is adjudged an insolvent; or
(b) engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
(c) is, in the opinion of the Governor , unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body.
- If the Chairperson or any Member is, or becomes, in any way concerned or interested in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Government of India or the Government of a State or participates in any way in the profit thereof or in any benefit or emolument arising there from otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company, he shall be deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour.
What about false complaints?
- If someone makes a false complaint against a public servant, s/he may be jailed for six months and fined upto One Lakh rupees.
- Also, the person may have to compensate the public servant.
But if the complaints were done under good faith, no action shall be taken against the complainant.