Wrong route: On Kerala Lok Ayukta law

Kerala’s move to dilute the Lok Ayukta law through an ordinance is questionable

The Government has defended the proposed ordinance on the ground that the section amounts to removal of a Minister duly appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and violates Articles 163 and 164 of the Constitution. Further, there is no provision for appeal. It proposes to amend it to the effect that the Governor, the government or authority may decide on the Lok Ayukta’s finding within three months. It also seeks to provide for an appeal. While these are valid points, there is room to question the adoption of the ordinance route. It is also curious that the provision is now considered unconstitutional when it was an earlier LDF regime headed by E.K. Nayanar that enacted the law in 1999. The legislation was quite ahead of its time, as it envisaged removal of a public servant from office following an adverse judicial finding long before the Supreme Court paved the way for automatic disqualification of an elected representative upon conviction. It was only in 2013 that the apex court struck down a clause in election law that saved a serving legislator from disqualification following conviction until an appeal was filed and disposed of. A regime truly disposed towards corruption-free governance should not normally be worried about a law that allows an independent judicial forum to direct a public servant to leave office. If it has well-founded reservations about the process, it should not be chary of introducing relevant amendments in the Assembly.

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