OMBUDSMAN

THE MIZORAM GAZETTE

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VOL-XL Aizawl, Friday  15.7.2011        Asadha 24,S.E. 1933,  Issue No. 296

 

NOTIFICATION

 

No. H.12018/219/2011-LJD, the 15th July, 2011. The following Act of the Mizoram Legislative Assembly which received the assent of the Governor of Mizoram is hereby published for general information.

 

THE MIZORAM (ESTABLISHMENT OF INDIPENDENT LOCAL BODY) OMBUDSMENT ACT, 2011 (Act No. 8 of 2011)

 

(Received the assent of the Governor of Mizoram on the 15th July, 2011)

 

AN ACT

 

To look into complaints of corruption and maladministration against the functionaries of Local Bodies, and to recommend suitable action.

 

It is enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Mizoram in the Sixty Second year of Republic of India as follows:-

 

PRELIMINARY

 

1.         Short title, extent and commencement –

(1)        This Act may be called The Mizoram (Establishment of Independent Local Body) Ombudsman Act 2011.

(2)        It shall extent to the whole of the state of Mizoram.

(3)        It shall come into force on such date or dates and in such area or areas as the state Government, by notification appoint.

                                      

2.         Definitions.- 

(1)        For the purpose of this Chapter, - 

(a) ‘Action’ means action taken by way of decision, recommendation, resolution or finding or in execution thereof or in exercise of administrative or legal functions in any other manner and includes willful default in taking action or omission and all other expressions connoting such action shall be construed accordingly;

(b)     ‘Allegation’, - 

(i) in relation to a public servant means, any affirmation that such public servant, - 

(ii) has abused his position as such for any gain or favor to himself or to any other person or to cause undue harm or hardship to any other person; 

(iii) was actuated in the discharge of his functions as such public servant by personal interest or improper or corrupt motives;  

(iv) is guilty of corruption, favoritism, nepotism or lack of integrity; 

(v) is guilty of any action as public servant which facilitates or causes to make any loss, waste or misapplication of money or other property of the Village Council. 

(vi) In relation to Village Council means any affirmation that such Village Council has defaulted or acted in excess of its powers in the discharge of its functions imposed on it by law or in implementing  the lawful orders and directions of the State Government;

(c) ‘Complaint’ means a statement of allegation that a public servant or a Village Council is guilty of corruption or maladministration and includes any reference to an allegation in respect of which suo moto enquiry has been proposed or enquiry has been made by the Government; 

(d)  ‘Corruption’  includes  anything  publishable  under  Chapter  X  of  the  Indian  Penal  Code (Central Act 45 of 1860) or under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (Central Act 49 1988); 

(e) ‘Maladministration’ means action taken or purported to have been taken in the exercise of administrative function in any case, - 

(i) Where  such  action,  administrative  procedure  or  practice  governing  such  action  involves injustice, oppression, discrimination or nepotism and will result in illegitimate gain or loss or in denying deserving benefits; or 

(ii) Where  there  is  willful  negligence  or  delay  in  taking  such  action,  or  the  administrative  procedure  or  method  regulating  such  action  will  cause  undue  delay  and  includes  the  action  leading to loss or waste or misuse of fund by malfeasance or misfeasance. 

(g)     ‘Ombudsman’ means the ombudsman referred to in section 3; 

(h) ‘Public Servant’ means an employee or officer under the Village Council or an elected member of the Village Council and includes an employee or officer of any office or institution transferred to the Village Council under the provisions of this Act; 

(i)      ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of the Ombudsman referred to in section 5; 

(j)  ‘Investigating  officer’  means  an  officer  authorized  by  the  Ombudsman  to  conduct investigation in respect of an allegation or complaint. 

(k)     ‘State’ means the state of Mizoram.

 

3.         Establishment and appointment of Ombudsman.- 

(1)        There shall be an authority for Village Councils constituted for the state known as ‘Ombudsman’  for  making  investigations  and  enquiries,  in  respect  of  charges  on  any  action involving  corruption  or  maladministration  or  irregularities  in  the  discharge  of  administrative functions  by  Village Councils  and  Public  Servants  working  under  them,  in  accordance  with  the provisions of this Act and for the disposal of complaints in accordance with section 16. 

(2)        The Ombudsman should be a single member body appointed by a committee consisting of the Chief Minister of the State, the Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly and the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.  The  Ombudsman  should  be  selected  from  a panel  of  eminent  persons of  impeccable  integrity  and  should  not  be  a  serving  State Government official. 

(3)        A person appointed to be the Ombudsman shall, before he or she enters upon his office, make and subscribe before the Governor or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form prescribed.   

 

4.         Term of office and conditions of Service of the Ombudsman.- 

(1)        A person appointed as Ombudsman shall hold office for a term of three years from the date on which he enters upon his office: 

Provided that, - 

(a) the Ombudsman may, by writing to the Governor, resign from his office; and 

(b)  the  person  appointed  as  Ombudsman  may  be  removed  from  his  office  in  the  manner provided in section 5. 

(2)        The person appointed as Ombudsman shall be entitled for salary and allowances as are admissible to a Judge of the High Court. 

 (3)       On expiry of his term of office as Ombudsman, he shall not be eligible for reappointment as Ombudsman or for further appointment to any office of profit under the State Government or  in  any  corporation,  company,  society  or  university  by  or  under  the  control  of  the  State Government. 

 

5.         Removal of Ombudsman.- 

(1)        The Ombudsman shall not be removed from his office, except by an order of the Governor, passed after an address by the State Legislative Assembly, supported by a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority of not less than three-fifth of the members of the Legislative  Assembly  present  and  voting,  has  been  presented  to  the  Governor  in  the  same session for such removal, on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity. 

(2)        The  procedure  for  the  presentation  of  an  address  under  sub-section  (1)  and  for  the investigation  and  proof  of  the  misbehavior  or  incapacity  of  the  Ombudsman  shall  be  in accordance with the provisions of law made by the Legislative Assembly. 

 

6.         Staff of Ombudsman.- 

(1)        The  Ombudsman  shall  have  a  Secretary,  and  such other  officers  and  employees  as  the State  Government  may  determine  in  consultation  with  the  Ombudsman  to  assist  the Ombudsman in the exercise of its powers and discharge of its functions under this Act. 

2)         The appointment and conditions of service of the Secretary and the employees shall be such  as  may  be  specified  by  the  State  Government  and  as  far  as  possible  appointment  on deputation from the State Government shall be resorted to. 

(3)        The  Ombudsman  may  require  the  assistance  of  any  officer  of  any  State  Government  Department  in  order  to  ascertain  the  veracity  of  an  allegation  under  investigation  and  such officer shall be bound to render such assistance in addition and without detriment to his official duties. 

(4)        The Ombudsman may utilize the services of any person having experience and expertise in any particular subject in deciding the questions before it.   

 

7.         Functions of the Ombudsman.-  

 

(1)        The Ombudsman shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely: - 

(a) Investigate  into  any  allegation  contained  in  a  complaint  or  on  a  reference  from  the Government, or that has come to the notice of the Ombudsman; 

(b) Enquire  into  any  complaint  in  which  corruption  or  maladministration  of  a  public  servant or a Village Council is alleged;

(c) Pass an order on the allegation in the following manner, namely: - 

(i) Where the irregularity involves a criminal offence committed by a public servant, the matter shall be referred to the appropriate authority for investigation. 

(ii) Where the irregularity causes loss or inconvenience to a citizen, direct the Village Council to give  him  compensation  and  to  reimburse  the  loss  from  the  person  responsible  for  the irregularity; 

(iii) Where the irregularity involves loss or waste or misuse of the fund of the Village Council, realize such loss from those who are responsible for such irregularity, and 

(iv) where the irregularity is due to omission or inaction cause to redress the omission and to rectify the mistake. 

(2)        In addition to the functions enumerated in sub-section (1), the Ombudsman may pass an interim order restraining the Village Council from doing anything detrimental to the interest of the complainant if it is satisfied that much loss or injury will be caused to the complainant due to the alleged act. 

(3)        The  Ombudsman  may  by  order,  impose  penalty  in  addition  to  compensation  if  it  is  of  the opinion that the irregularity involves corrupt practice for personal gain. 

 

8.         Time limit for investigation of complaints.- 

A  time  limit  may  be  prescribed  for  the  Ombudsman  to  complete  its  investigations  into complaints by the State Government. 

 

9.         Powers of the Ombudsman.- 

(1)        The Ombudsman shall, for the purpose of any investigation or enquiry under this Act, have the same  powers  as  are  vested  in  a  Civil  Court  while  trying  a  suit  under  the  Code  of  Civil Procedure, 1908 (Central Act V of 1908) in respect of the following matters, namely: - 

(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any witness and examining him; 

(b) requiring the discovery and production of any document; 

(c) receiving evidence on affidavits; 

(d) requisitioning any public records, or copy thereof from any court or office; 

(e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses; 

(f) such other powers as are prescribed; 

 (2)       Where the Ombudsman finds that the allegation contained in a complaint is without any substance or trivial in nature it may by order direct the complainant to pay to the opposite party so much of the amount specified in the order by way of cost. 

(3)        Where the allegation contained in a complaint is about the loss or waste or misapplication of the fund of the Village Council or in respect of the loss or inconvenience caused to a citizen, the Ombudsman may, during enquiry, collect evidence, determine the loss and direct in its order the amount to be realized from the person responsible. 

(4)        If the amount paid as per the order passed by the Ombudsman under sub-section (2) or sub-section (3) is not paid within the period specified by it, the same shall be recoverable by Revenue Recovery Proceedings as if it were an arrears of land revenue. 

 

10.        Service of State Government Departments.- 

The State Government may, at the request of the Ombudsman make available the services of officers  and  employee  of  the  State  Government  including  police  personnel  to  assist  the Ombudsman in the conduct of investigation and enquiry and in respect of such functions such Officer or employee shall be deemed to be the officer or employee of the Ombudsman. 

 

11.       Investigation.- 

(1)        The Ombudsman may, according to the provisions of this Act, enquire into any complaint filed before it under this Act. 

(2)        Notwithstanding  anything  contained  in  this  Act  the  State  Government  may  refer  any allegation of corruption or maladministration against a Village Council or a public servant which is within its knowledge or brought to its notice, to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman shall  enquire into it as if it was a complaint filed under this Act.   

(3)        The Ombudsman may, on receipt of a complaint, conduct an investigation in the matter and where there is prima facie case it may conduct a detailed enquiry.  

(4)        The Ombudsman shall not enquire into matters relating to, - 

(a)  any  matter  in  respect  of  which  a  formal  and  public  enquiry  has  been  ordered  by  State  Government; 

(b)  any  matter  in  respect  of  which  an  enquiry  has  been  ordered  under  the  Commission  of Inquiries Act, 1952 (Central Act 60 of 1952) or any matter pending before a court;

 (c)  any  complaint  filed  after  the  expiry  of  three  years  from  the  date  on  which  the  matter complained against has taken place: 

 

Provided that the Ombudsman may entertain such complaint if the complainant satisfies that  he had sufficient reason for not filing the complaint within the specified period. 

 

12.       Enquiry.- 

(1)        After an investigation if the Ombudsman is satisfied that, - 

(a) the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith; or  

(b) there is no sufficient ground to initiate proceedings; or 

(c) other remedies are available to the complainant and it would be more beneficial for the complainant to avail of such remedies in view of the circumstances of the case, it may dispose of  the  complaint  as  rejected  after  recording  its  findings  stating  the  reason  therefore,  and communicate the same to the complainant.   

(2)        If, the Ombudsman is of opinion that there is a prima-facie case against the person or the Village Council  complained  of,  it  shall  record  its  findings  to  this  effect  and  send  notices  of  the proposed enquiry to the complainant and to the opposite party. 

(3)        The Ombudsman shall, subject to the provisions of this Act and the rules made there under, have power to regulate its procedures by fixing the time and place of sitting. 

(4)        In  any  proceedings  before  the  Ombudsman,  no  legal  practitioner  will  be  permitted  to represent  any  person,  unless  the  Ombudsman  permits,  by  an  order,  a  person  to  be  represented by a legal practitioner for reasons to be recorded. 

 

13.       Existing cases to be transferred to Ombudsman.- 

(1)        Notwithstanding  anything  contained  in  any  other  law,  if  any  proceedings,  filed  and  not disposed of under the said Act, before the constitution of Ombudsman as per the provisions of this chapter, relate to a public servant or Village Council as per the provisions of this Act, all cases with regard to such proceedings shall be transferred to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman shall decide the cases in accordance with the provisions of this Act. 

(2)        All  cases,  with  regard  to  the  loss,  wastage  and  misappropriation  of  any  land  of  the Village Council, pending before the State Government or any other authority and disposed of just before  the  constitution  of  Ombudsman  shall  disposed  of by the ombudsman in accordance with the provisions of this Act. 

 

14.       Power to investigate and recommend action in certain cases.-  

The Ombudsman shall have the power to investigate and recommend action in complaints or grievance regarding abuse of office, corruption, maladministration against the Village Councils or its  elected  members,  or  where  suspension  of  any  resolution  passed  by  the  Village Councils  or dissolution  of  the  Village Councils  is  alleged.  The State Government should not have power to suspend or rescind any resolution passed by the Village Councils or take action against the elected representatives on the ground of abuse of office, corruption etc. or to supersede or dissolve the Village Councils. In all such cases, Ombudsman will send his report to the Governor for further action. 

 

15.       State Government to place records before ombudsman in certain cases.- 

If  the  State  Government  feels  that  there  is  need  to  take  immediate  action  against  the Village Councils or their elected representatives on one or more of the grounds of  abuse of office, corruption etc., it should place the records before the Ombudsman for urgent investigation. In all such cases the Ombudsman will send his report to the Governor in a specific period. 

 

16.       Initiation of prosecution.-

(1)        If, after an investigation or inquiry, the Ombudsman finds that there is a prima-facie case against the accused involving a criminal offence, the Ombudsman may refer the complaint and the findings to a competent authority with recommendation to initiate prosecution. 

(2)        The authority responsible, for initiating such prosecution shall conduct a detailed enquiry if necessary and charge a case.

 

17.       Disposals of complaints.- 

(1)        The  Ombudsman  may  consider  and  dispose  of  complaints  other  than  those  involving criminal offences, in the following manner, - 

(i) Award compensation to a citizen in case of loss or grievance; 

(ii) Order the recovery of loss caused to the Village Council from the person responsible; 

(iii) Order the supply of omission or rectification of defects due to inaction; 

(iv)  Order  the  recovery  of  loss  from  the  accused  failing  which,  order  realization  through  Revenue Recovery Proceedings; 

(v) Order other necessary remedial measures considering the facts and circumstances of the case. 

(2)        Where the Ombudsman finds that the procedure or practice regarding the administration of Village Council gives room for complaint, it may give suggestions to the State Government or Village Councils relating to the measures for avoiding the recurrence of such complaint. 

(3)        The  Ombudsman  shall  give  annually  a  detailed  report  regarding  the  performance  of  its functions  under  this  Act  to  the  State  Government  and  the  State  Government  it  shall  lay  it before the Legislative Assembly with an explanatory memorandum. 

 

18.       Report to be sent to Governor.- 

In case of complaints and grievances regarding corruption and maladministration against the Village Councils in general and its elected functionaries, the Ombudsman shall send its report to the Governor.  

 

19.       Reasons for disagreement with the report to be placed in public domain.- 

If there is disagreement with the recommendations of the Ombudsman in case of complaints and grievances regarding corruption and maladministration against the Village Councils in general and its elected functionaries, the Governor must place the reasons in the public domain. 

 

20.       Procedures to be prescribed.- 

The State Government may make rules in respect of the following matters, namely: - 

(i) The conditions of service of the Ombudsman and Ombudsman’s staff; 

(ii) The manner of filing complaints before the Ombudsman and the manner  or  filling cases either suo moto or on reference by State Government 

(iii) The manner and procedure of conducting investigation; 

(iv) Procedure for moving the appropriate authority for the initiation of prosecution; 

(v) Procedure to be followed during the inquiry, which as far as possible should be summary proceedings; 

(vi) The manner of implementing the order of the Ombudsman and further proceedings; 

(vii) Any other matter which the State Government may deem necessary to prescribe. 

 

 

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