Himachal Lokayukta will be strengthened, says new chief

February 3rd, 2012 - 4:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Anna Hazare Shimla, Feb 3 (IANS) An effective Lokayukta system would be shortly put in place in Himachal Pradesh, the state’s new Lokayukta Justice (retd) L.S. Panta said here Friday.

“The office of the Lokayukta would be strengthened by giving it investigative and suo motu powers,” Panta, who took oath of office of Lokayukta in the presence of Governor Urmila Singh and Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.

He said Himachal was one of the few states in the country that took the lead in having a Lokayukta.

“It was set up in 1983. Now it’s 2012. There is a huge time gap. If amendments (to the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act of 1983) are required, they would be carried out, but after consulting the government,” he added.

Panta, a retired Supreme Court judge, was chairman of the National Green Tribunal, a judicial body aimed at expediting environment-related cases, before becoming the Lokayukta.

He said India was the third country after Australia and New Zealand to have “green courts”.

“It’s 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 said.

Talking to reporters after the swearing-in ceremony, Dhumal said the Lokayukta would get more powers in order to deal effectively with corruption and abuse of power.

“Members of civil society headed by Anna Hazare have sent us suggestions to make the institution more potent. If required, they would be invited before making any amendments to the prevailing Act,” he added.

The chief minister’s office also comes under the purview of Lokayukta.

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