Himachal assembly passes Lokayukta Amendment Bill on closing day
Bill’s passage paves way for the appointment of any Himachal HC judge to the post as opposed to the earlier provision under which only the chief justice could be considered
The state assembly passed the Lokayukta Amendment Bill on the last day of its monsoon session, paving way for the appointment of any high court (HC) judge to the post as opposed to the earlier provision under which only the chief justice could be considered.
Deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri presented this bill, which was passed by the House in a voice vote.
According to the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act, earlier only the HC chief justice was eligible for appointment to the post. It is noteworthy that the state government had made a provision in the law to make other HC judges eligible for appointment to the post of Lokayukta way back in 2021. Section 7 of the law had to be amended for the same.
Going forward, in case a judge is appointed to the post of Lokayukta, they will be eligible to receive the salary and allowances corresponding to the post.
Jai Ram, Agnihotri spar over FIRs against legislator
Speaking in the House, Thakur demanded quashing the case registered against BJP MLA Vinay Kumar. He noted that such practice would become a tradition in future if the case is not quashed before appealing to the government to consider the issues raised by the party during its protest.
System change, the leader said, comes through a change in behaviour and not through words. He said the government has been in power for ten months and the government was not in a comfortable position because there is resentment among the people. He urged the government to reconsider the issue of outsourced workers being removed from the health department.
Thakur also expressed surprise over the white paper brought by the government in the House, saying that many issues were included in it which are only under the control of the Centre. He said some of the answers provided to the Opposition’s questions during the session were not satisfactory and need to be looked at in the future.
Deputy CM Mukesh Agnihotri,meanwhile, took a dig at the leader of Opposition during his speech during the concluding session, saying it has been the House’s tradition to part on happy terms, but he had given a “serious” speech on the last day.
He also said the previous BJP government had lodged first information reports (FIR) against six Congress MLAs even within the assembly itself, saying some of them have not been quashed till date.
Agnihotri said the previous BJP government did not present its case properly before the 15th finance commission, which cost the state in terms of assistance from the Centre, reduced the state’s loan limit and stopped the compensation under goods and services tax (GST). He also expressed surprise at the Opposition’s perceived silence during the resolution passed regarding the natural disaster in the state.
Over 36 hrs of discussion
Assembly speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania said that a total of 36 hours and 38 minutes of work was carried out during the session and the productivity of the House stood at 106%. During the period, 537 questions — 369 starred and 186 unstarred — were asked in the House.
He revealed that the CM spoke for five hours during the session, while the leader of opposition spoke for two hours and 48 minutes. He added while a resolution was passed under Rule 102 regarding the disaster in the state and was sent to the Centre and a committee formed to give legal status to hemp cultivation in the state under Rule 63 also submitted its report.
The assembly Speaker said that during the session, under Rule 102, the natural disaster in the state was discussed for 15 hours and 10 minutes for three days in which 27 MLAs from the ruling party and 21 from the opposition including three independents participated. Three private resolutions came up for discussion in the House under Rule 101, while 8 subjects were discussed under Rule 61 and 5 under Rule 62.
Eight government bills were introduced and passed in the House. nine topics were raised under Rule 324, while 85 reports of the committees of the House were also presented.
Noting that chief minister (CM) Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and leader of opposition Jai Ram Thakur have cooperated well to the smooth functioning of the House, state assembly speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania appealed to the legislators to maintain a cordial atmosphere.