Lokayukta candidate backs off as Cong questions appointment

The Congress on Tuesday slammed Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant after he wrote to Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat, seeking the latter’s consent to appoint former High Court Judge U.V. Bakre as the Lokayukta for Goa, even as the former Justice has turned down the position citing “personal reason”.

“Before Chief Minister Pramod Sawant seeks my consent for appointment of new Lokayukta, he should first empower the institution with proper authority and power, which the office of the Goa Lokayukta has been stripped off through a series of recent amendments,” Kamat said on Tuesday.

Kamat’s statement comes a few days after Sawant wrote to him.

Shortly after Kamat’s outburst, Bakre informed the Goa government of his inability to take up the top post citing “personal reasons”.

“After diluting the powers of Goa Lokayukta, the government now wants me to give consent to appointment of a new Lokayukta. I demand that the government must first empower the new Lokayukta with authority and powers to act against illegalities and complaints,” Kamat said.

According to The Goa Lokayukta Act, 2011, the Lokayukta shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice tendered by the Chief Minister, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court and the Leader of Opposition.

The Opposition has accused the Goa government of watering down provisions of the anti-corruption law, through amendments which were passed in the state Assembly in January this year.

Kamat said that the new amendments had drastically whittled down the powers of the office of the anti-corruption ombudsman and reduced the functionary to a ceremonial figure.

“I had in particular vehemently argued that the institution of Lokayukta should be so strengthened that the menace of corruption at all levels would be curbed in a substantial manner.

“The government chose to ignore the well placed bonafide objections raised by me and my colleagues in the Opposition so much so that the end result is the creation of a farcical institution of Lokayukta,” Kamat said in his statement on Tuesday.