Do you know who is the Lokpal of India? As stated in the act Public officers, Ministers and even the Prime Minister of our country can also be charged for practicing corruption. This is why this topic becomes important for the UPSC and IAS exam. Read the article till the end to know all about it.
Origins of Lokpal Act
- The Lokpal Act is inspired by the concept of Ombudsman which was first implemented in Sweden in 1809 to protect the Public Interest.
- The word Lokpal is Sanskrit for “Caretaker of people”. It was first coined by Laxmi Mall Singhvi in 1963.
- The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) in 1966 recommended to constitute Lokpal at the central level and Lokayukta at the state level.
- After the ARC recommendation, the Bill was passed multiple times in Lok Sabha but was rejected every time.
- The Bill was rejected a total eight times till 2011.
- The Act got its approval in 2014 by the President.
- Finally, in 2019 the first Lokpal chairman was appointed.
What does Lokpal of India do?
Lokpal is the central government constituted body to take action against corruption practiced by any central government employee.
The Motto of Lokpal in English, is translated as: “Don’t be greedy for anyone’s wealth”
The decision to form Lokpal was taken to come up with efficient mechanics to solve the problems of Public Interest.
Pinaki Chandra Ghose-India’s First Lokpal
Pinaki Chandra Ghose, former Supreme Court judge was appointed as the first Lokpal of India in 2019, five years after the Lokpal act was notified by the Supreme Court. FormerJustice Ghose was also a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The Lokpal of India is selected by a committee of five members. These members are as follows:
- Prime Minister
- Lok Sabha speaker
- Chief Justice of India (CJI)
- Leader of Opposition (LoP)
- An eminent Jurist nominated by the President
The process of selection of the first Lokpal was delayed due to the absence of LoP. Later, the Supreme Court ordered to not further delay the Lokpal appointment because of the absence of the LoP.
Who is Appointed as Lokpal of India (Chairman)?
- Only the former Chief Justice of India or former Supreme Court Judge or an eminent person with at least 25 years of experience in the domain of anti-corruption policy, public administration, etc. are eligible to be considered as Lokpal of India.
- The current Lokpal of India is a former Supreme Court Judge, Pinaki Ghose.
- The tenure of Lokpal chairman is for five years or until he or she reaches the age of 70, whichever comes first.
Lokpal Complainant Rules
- There are no restrictions on who can file the complainant.
- Lokpal has the authority to inquire against public servants only for those malpractices as mentioned under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- The Lokpal is not permitted to orchestrate the complaint regarding Central government servants, and they shall forward the complaints to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
- The person who is complaining should submit his or her valid proof of identity. If the person is a foreigner then, only a passport is accepted as valid proof of identity
- Complaint can also be done electronically. In that case, the person shall submit the hard copy of valid proof of identity in the next 15 days to the Lokpal.
- The complaint may be in English or any one language mentioned in the Eighth Schedule in the Constitution of India.
How Lokpal Functions?
- As the complainant is received Lokpal can order to begin with the preliminary inquiry with help of an investigation agency such as CBI.
- This inquiry should be done in 60 days and a complete report should be submitted to Lokpal.
- An opportunity shall be given to the alleged officer for explaining his side.
- If after reading the report and hearing the side of the alleged officer, the Lokpal is not convinced then the committee members can order a full investigation.
- After the completion of the investigation, the report copy should be submitted to the Lokpal as well as to the appropriate Jurisdiction court.
- The Lokpal is granted with the following jurisdictions for investigation,
Ø Authority to search and seizure
Ø Authority to the attachment of assets
Ø To summon a witness or document.
Ø Also, Authorities mentioned under the Civil Producer Code.
Exceptions of Lokpal Act:
- Complaint against any public servant working in the Navy, Army, Air Force is not permitted.
- If the complaint against the Prime Minister is related to international affairs, external and internal security, public order, and space. Then the complaint will not be entertained.
- For complaints against the PM to proceed, at least two-thirds of the committee members should be convinced.
- If the committee approves such an inquiry then the preceding should be in front of a camera.
- Complete confidentiality should be maintained if the committee approves to dismiss such a charge.
What is Lokayukta?
- Every state has to constitute a body named as Lokayukta to deal with the complaint of corruption against state public servants under section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act.
- Lokpal is constituted at the national level and Lokayukta is constituted at the state level, this is the main difference between Lokpal and Lokayukta.
- Many states have not appointed any Lokayukta yet.
After the Supreme Court enforced the Lokpal and Lokayukta act in 2014. But due to the absence of LoP. India’s first Lokpal committee was appointed in 2019. The Lokpal has to follow certain protocols to proceed. If the complaint is against the Prime Minister.
There are still many states who have not established the Lokayukta yet.