Prelims cum Mains

Pinaki Chandra Ghose set to be India’s first Lokpal

The News

  • Pinaki Chandra Ghose is likely to be India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman, or Lokpal.

 

About Lokpal Act, 2013 and Lokpal

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provides for creation of anti-graft ombudsman to investigate corruption charges against public functionaries including Prime Minister, Ministers and Member of Parliament.
  • The bill was passed in the parliament in December 2013 and received assent from President on in January 2014.
  • Composition of Lokpal
    • The institution of Lokpal is a statutory body without any constitutional backing.
    • Lokpal is a multimember body consisting of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members, of which fifty percent shall be Judicial Members.
    • Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
  • Appointment of the Lokpal
    • The selection of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection Committee consisting of:
      • Prime Minister
      • Speaker of Lok Sabha
      • Leader of Opposition the Lok Sabha
      • Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court Judge nominated by CJI;
      • An eminent Jurist to be nominated by the President of India on basis of recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee “through consensus”.
    • Jurisdiction of Lokpal
      • Public functionaries including Prime Minister, Ministers and Members of Parliament.
      • Lokpal’s jurisdiction will cover all categories of public servants including ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ officers and employees of Government.
      • All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
    • 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.

 

Background

  • The Lokpal Act, 2013 provides for setting up of Lokpal at the centre and Lokayuktas in the States to probe corruption complaints.
  • The act includes the Leader of Opposition as a member of the selection committee of Lokpal.
  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 had not been implemented because there was no Leader of Opposition (LoP) 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.

 

News summary

  • Now, Pinaki Chandra Ghose has been recommended to be appointed as India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman, or Lokpal.
  • His name was cleared and recommended by the high-level selection committee chaired by Prime Minister.
  • Pinaki Chandra Ghose is the former Supreme Court judge and current member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
  • The names of other Lokpal members have also been decided.
  • The members of the selection committee were Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and eminent jurist Mukul Rohatgi.
  • Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Khargewas invited as “special invitee” but herefused to attend the meeting.

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