The opposition demanded either the bill should be withdrawn or the proposed amendments should be referred to the select committee. When the bill was being passed, opposition walked out in protest. Opposition legislators had reservation with the provision of judge of high court being made eligible for the post of Lokayukta. Dispelling their fear, parliamentary affairs and law minister Suresh Bhardwaj said through this amendment bill, the government only had extended the scope instead of limiting the scope.
After finding it difficult to find a suitable candidate for the post of Lokayukta for the last around four years, Himachal Pradesh government had introduced the bill to amend the Lokayukta Act to make the judges of high court eligible for the post. Earlier, the Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act, 2014, had the provision that only retired judge of Supreme Court or chief justice of high courts were eligible for the post of Lokayukta.
The Himachal Pradesh Lokayukta Act, 2014, was enacted to inquire into the allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for similar matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
While participating in the discussion on the bill, CPM MLA Rakesh Singha said in the interest of state, House and leader of the House, amendment should not be put to work as it would be disastrous. Congress MLAs, including leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, Jagat Singh Negi, Asha Kumari and Harshwardhan Chauhan, also expressed their reservations on the provision of making judge of high court eligible for the post of Lokayukta.
Bhardwaj said when a law is made, then amendments are needed according to the situation over a period of time. He said most of the time, the post of Lokayukta has remained vacant in Himachal Pradesh due to limited scope of eligibility while people from outside do not want to come to the state.
He said to ensure that institution runs smoothly, the amendment has been brought. He said along with judges of Supreme Court and chief justice of high courts, now the judges of high courts are also being made eligible for the post.
He said the post of the chief minister will not be degraded with the provision of judge of high court being made eligible for the post of Lokayukta as the judge of high court has equal power to that of a chief justice as far as delivering justice is concerned. He said judge in a high court is not appointed by the executive as they are appointed on the recommendation of Supreme Court. When the bill was being passed with voice vote, Congress MLAs walked out of the House in protest.