Polity & Governance

How Lokpal will form, function?

Context of the topic

  • Recently, the former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose has been recommended by the Selection Committee to be the first Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman of India.
  • This comes five years after the President had given assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

 

The Lokpal: A backgrounder

  • They are ombudsmen at the Centre tasked with looking into complaints of corruption and maladministration against public servants
  • The concept of an ombudsman is borrowed from Sweden
  • The term “Lokpal” was coined by L.M.Singhvi in 1963.
  • The first Lokpal Bill was introduced by Shanti Bhushan and passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013 with amendments in parliament.
  • The Lokpal Act, 2013 provides for setting up of Lokpal at the centre and Lokayuktas in the States to probe corruption complaints.
  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 had not been implemented because there was no Leader of Opposition (LoP) (a member of the selection committee) in the 16th Lok Sabha.
  • In April 2017, The SC clarified that the Lokpal appointment process should not be stalled merely due to the absence of leader of the opposition and set the deadline for appointment of Lokpal.
  • Hence, the government was prompted to make the selection of Lokpal after the Supreme Court set the February-end deadline.

 

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

Lokpal: For Center

  • The act provides for establishing a body to be called the Lokpal, headed by a Chairperson
  • Functioning:
    • After receiving a complaint against any public servant, Lokpal may order a preliminary inquiry (to be completed within 90 days) or investigation by any agency.
    • After receiving the report of the preliminary inquiry, the Lokpal may order an investigation by any agency or departmental proceedings or any other appropriate action against the concerned public servants by the competent authority, or it can order closure of the proceedings.
  • Eligibility of chairperson: The chairperson can be a present or former Chief Justice of India or Judge of the Supreme Court, or an eminent person who fulfils eligibility criteria as specified.
  • Other Members of Lokpal:
    • Other members should not exceed eight
    • 50% are to be judicial members
    • Not less than 50% of the members belong to the Scheduled Castess, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, minorities, and women.
  • Selection of chairperson and members of Lokpal: The selection committee consisting of:
    • Prime Minister (Chairman)
    • Speaker of Lok Sabha
    • Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha
    • Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by CJI,
    • Eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India on the basis of recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee.
  • Salaries, allowances and service conditions:
    • Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India.
    • For other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • Wings of Lokpal: After the selection of the Lokpal and its members, the Lokpal will set up its various wings, like:
  • Inquiry Wing:
    • Headed by Director of Inquiry
    • Purpose: Conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant, punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • Prosecution Wing:
    • Headed by the Director of Prosecution
    • Purpose: Prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act. These are to deal with complaints against public servants.
    • The chairperson and members of the Lokpal too come under the definition of public servant.
    • It shall apply to public servants in and outside India
  • Jurisdiction: It covers a wide range of public servants including Prime Minister, ministers and MP, to groups A, B, C and D officers of the central government.
  • Exceptions:
    • It does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the Prime Minister relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
    • Complaints against the Prime Minister are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.
    • An inquiry against the Prime Minister (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.
    • A complaint under this Act shall only relate to a period during which the public servant was holding or serving in that capacity
  • Powers of the Lokpal:
    • Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal.
    • If it has referred a case to CBI, the investigating officer in such case cannot be transferred without approval of Lokpal.
    • Powers to authorize CBI for search and seizure operations connected to such case.
    • The Inquiry Wing of the Lokpal has been vested with the powers of a civil court.
    • Lokpal has powers of confiscation of assets, proceeds, receipts and benefits arisen or procured by means of corruption in special circumstances.
    • Lokpal has the power to recommend transfer or suspension of public servant connected with allegation of corruption.
    • Lokpal has power to give directions to prevent destruction of records during preliminary inquiry.

 

Lokayuktas: For states

  • Lokayukta is similar to the Lokpal, but functions on a state level.
  • The act provides for the states to establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta, to deal with complaints relating to corruption against certain public functionaries at the state level.
  • This means establishment of the institution of the Lokayukta including any appointment therein falls within the domain of the states.
  • Maharashtra was the first state to have a Lokayukta law in 1971

 

  • A Lokayukta is to be appointed in every state within one year of the passing of the Act, but several states are yet to appoint such an institution.
  • The Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram Assemblies had passed Lokayukta Bills in 2014 and Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry Assemblies also passed their respective Bills in July 2018 but have not appointed any Lokayukta or Up-Lokayukta till now.
  • The reasons for non-appointment of Lokayukta/ Up-Lokayukta is to be laid before the court by these states

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: