The West Bengal Assembly on Thursday passed the Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill 2018, which keeps the chief minister out of the ombudsman’s ambit in cases of complaints of corruption relating to public order.
The amendment to Section 8A of the Bill also requires probes into any complaint against a public servant to first seek the approval of the state government.
The Opposition targeted the government over the amendments even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee defended the move, saying she was answerable to the people and not to the leader of any political party.
CPM leader Sujan Chakrabarty said, “If the chief minister is projected as a symbol of honesty, why should she be kept out of the ambit of the Bill? Actually, she is scared and hence she has been deliberately excluded…”
West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh asked why West Bengal’s chief minister requires such a “shield” when the chief ministers of 18 states have kept themselves within the ambit of the Bill. “I do not see any reason for excluding the chief minister,” he said.
The Chief Minister dismissed the allegations that her post has been kept out of the ambit of Lokayukta entirely, saying certain provisions had been made only within the domain of public order. According to PTI, she stated that recruitment of police, deployment of forces and emergency situations would be regarded as matters of public order.
“The Opposition is unnecessarily trying to create confusion on this issue,” she said.
State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said a few provisions for excluding the chief minister have been introduced in order to ease functioning of government.
“The current political situation is such that anyone can make a vague complaint against the chief minister, which will hamper the functioning of the government and slow down the pace of government functioning,” he said.
Mamata said similar protection was given to MLAs, as part of which permission from the Assembly and its Speaker is needed to initiate an enquiry against them.