Justice Panta,Dhumal differ on consulting Team Anna
Favouring strong changes in the states anti-graft legislation,Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Justice L S Panta on Friday said the Lokayukta should have powers to take suo motu action and have investigative powers to become an effective instrument against corruption.
An effective Lokayukta would be shortly in place in Himachal Pradesh and necessary amendments to the Lokayukta Act of 1983 would have to be made in consultations with the government to make it strong. I would study the Lokayukta Act and examine what amendments are needed to make it more stringent and also consult legal experts,state government or secretary (law ) and other officers in this regard,Panta,a retired Supreme Court judge,said.
The Lokayukta,however,differed with Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on consulting Team Anna or civil society members on redrafting the new provisions for amendments in the law. If someone (Team Anna) has suggestions,they can forward it to the government, Panta said,before adding that Himachal Pradesh was a state with a lot of difference and the existing law had also played its role very well.
Chief Minister Dhumal on the other hand has actively sought the help of Team Anna to redraft the Lokayukta Act. We will be amending the Act in consultations with Justice Panta. Team Anna has also sent its draft .I will ask the officials to start discussions on the changes,and also discuss the draft and invite team Anna to Shimla,if needed, Dhumal had earlier said.
The new Lokayukta also said that the states cannot wait indefinitely for the Lokpal bill. Parliament will do its own job,we will do our own,Panta said.
Country has strong green bench
On his green tribunal assignment,Justice Panta said India was the third country after Australia and New Zealand to have green courts. Its a very effective,independent body dealing with environmental cases. Anybody can approach the tribunal for civil damages arising out of non-implementation of various laws relating to the environment, he added. I had established the principal bench of the tribunal at New Delhi having jurisdiction over UP,Uttarakhand,Punjab,Himachal Pradesh,Haryana,Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir. The process for setting up circuit benches was also under way,Panta said. The principal bench with a minimum of 10 judicial members and an equal number of non-judicial members including experts in the field of environment is much stronger than legislation in New Zealand and Australia,Panta said.