TODAY -

Liability Bill expands scope:: CM Ibobi eyes on rectifying misconduct of Govt employees
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, July 04 2013: The Manipur Public Servants' Liability (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was passed unanimously on the last sitting of 5th Session of 10th Manipur Legislative Assembly today.

It may be noted that the Manipur Public Servants' Liability Bill, 2006 was enacted by the State Legislature to provide for personal liability of the public servants of Manipur for creation of unauthorized liability through irregular actions in the form of appointment or engagement of persons, award of works, supply orders, payment of bills, signing and execution of contracts, providing grants, benefits, compensation, and such other acts in the name of Government or its agencies and recovery of such amounts from the personal incomes including salary and other entitlements of the public servants responsible for creation of such liabilities.

The purpose of this Amendment Bill is to insert a new clause "4A" to the Act which reads as "Liability for past irregular actions-Notwithstanding anything contained in the Act, any irregular actions committed by a public servant four years before commencement of this Act, shall be deemed to be irregular actions committed under this Act" .

Earlier, the Act does not specifically mention the time period for which irregular acts committed before the enforcement of the Act can be taken up for consideration by the High Powered Committee.

It has become necessary to set a definitive time limit so that the Committee is not bound to take up cases which have occurred long back and for which the conduct of enquiry may be difficult to the Committee.

The Bill was introduced by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi in the House on Friday last.

In the discussion, Opposition Leader Dr I Ibohalbi stated that some clauses of the Manipur Public Servants' Liability Act need to be reviewed as they seem to provide leniency to the offenders.

He also pointed out that the High Powered Committee comprises Chief Secretary as Chairman and four other members in case of Government officials.

However, in the case of Ministers and MLAs, the Committee comprises Chief Minister as Chairman and two Cabinet Ministers as members.

Ibohalbi questioned who the other two members of the Committee are, and whether the Autonomous District Councils and Panchayats would be exempted from the purview of this Act.

MLA Laisom Ibomcha observed that the Act passed on April 17, 2006 is not a criminal law.

It simply aims to recover the misappropriated money from the Government officials, and so the use of words "fine" and "penalty" in the Bill is inappropriate.

Except for Dr Ibohalbi and Ibomcha, all other MLAs were silent during the discussion of this Bill.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi clarified that the Amendment Bill would help in investigation of cases happened four years before the enforcement of the Liability Act.

There were 28 cases of fund embezzlement prior to the year 2006, out of which 17 cases are still pending though 11 cases have been settled, he added.

More than 20 cases are still under investigation.

The misappropriated funds are duly recovered by deducting 50 percent of the salary in case of serving employees and one-third of pension in case of retired employees, Ibobi noted.

Chief Minister further stated that the Government works impartially while dealing with cases of fund embezzlement.

The Government is still recovering money from employees of School Education, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Home and Power Department.

Chief Secretary and one legal officer would be the other two members of the High Powered Committee, he disclosed.

After it was passed unanimously by the House, the Bill would require the assent of the Governor for its enactment.

The Bill, if enacted as an Act, would help to investigate several misappropriation cases from the time Chief Minister Okram Ibobi assumed his office in 2002 .


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