Kerala Assembly on Tuesday passed a Bill that allows the state government to accept or reject the verdict of the Lokayukta, PTI reported.

The Lokayukta is appointed by the governor of a state to address complaints about government and public servants. The amendment to the Kerala Lokayukta Act, 1999, means that a verdict of the Lokayukta will be a mere recommendation rather than being a binding decision.

On Tuesday, the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala boycotted the proceedings before the voting on the Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, PTI reported.

Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan called it a “black day” in the history of the Kerala Assembly. Announcing their boycott, Satheesan said that the United Democratic Front did not want to see the end of the anti-corruption body.

“The Opposition cannot support the attempt made by the government to eliminate and weaken an anti-corruption agency,” he said. “We are registering our stern opposition against passing this bill. We will fight it tooth and nail.”

Congress legislators Ramesh Chennithala and PC Vishnunath asked for a formal debate saying that the Bill violated rules, PTI reported. Speaker MB Rajesh, however, rejected it.

Law Minister P Rajeev said that Lokayukta is not a judicial body, The News Minute reported. “Lokayukta is a body for enquiry or investigation and a body for investigation should not be the one pronouncing judgement too,” the minister said.

The Left Democratic Front-led Kerala government had earlier argued that the original provision denied natural justice, as there was no provision for an appeal. The government also cited two High Court judgements that have held that the Lokayukta’s jurisdiction involves making recommendations, rather than passing verdicts that have to be followed mandatorily.

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