Topic: General Studies 2:
- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
LOKPAL – Six Year on but still a non-starter
Lokpal (and Lokayuktas at State level) are statutory bodies established under Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013
They perform the function of an “ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
Powers of Lokpal
- Jurisdiction of Lokpal includes Prime Minister, Ministers, members of Parliament, Groups A, B, C and D officers and officials of Central Government.
- Jurisdiction of the Lokpal included the Prime Minister except on allegations of corruption relating to international relations, security, the public order, atomic energy and space.
- The Lokpal Act mandates that all public officials should furnish the assets and liabilities of themselves as well as their respective dependents.
- It has the powers to superintendence over, and to give direction to CBI.
- It has been vested with the powers of a civil court.
- It is empowered under the law to set up its own inquiry wing headed by a Director of Inquiry and its own prosecution wing headed by a Director of Prosecution
- 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.
However, the implementation of the act has been poor due to reason like
Delay in appointment:
- For more than five years since enactment of act in 2013, the chairperson and members of the Lokpal were not appointed.
- The government claimed that since no one could be recognised as the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) after the 2014 general election, the committee responsible for selecting members of the Lokpal could not be constituted.
- The chairperson and members of the Lokpal were appointed only in March 2019 after a orders from the Supreme Court
Actual Composition of the select committee:
- A truncated selection committee, without the LoP, was set up – PM, Speaker, CJI and Eminent jurist (Mukul Rohatgi – former Attorney General of India) – to constitute Lokpal in March 2019
- The four-member selection committee was thus seen as having a preponderance of representatives of the ruling party.
- This raised doubts about the independence of the Lokpal even before it became operational.
Failure to Operationalize Lokpal –
- More than 10 months after constituting Lokpal, the government has not made rules prescribing the form for filing complaints to the Lokpal.
- The Central government has also failed to formulate rules regarding asset disclosure by public servants
- The inquiry and prosecution wings of the anti-corruption ombudsman are yet to be set up.
- The Lokpal has also not appointed the Director of Inquiry or Prosecution
- Regulations which the Lokpal was obligated to make under the law are yet to be made, including those specifying the manner and procedure of conducting preliminary inquiry and investigation.
- Resignation of its judicial member, Justice Dilip B. Bhosale, for undisclosed reasons has further dented the image of the institution.
- Veracity of Statistics on Lokpal Website: The website of the Lokpal states that it scrutinised 1,065 complaints received till September 30, 2019 and disposed of 1,000.
- Since necessary procedures to operationalise the law are yet to be put in place, the legal veracity of the decisions of the Lokpal could potentially be challenged in a court of law.
- Lokpal was accorded a high stature and given extensive powers including the power to inquire, investigate and prosecute acts of corruption.
- Without the requisite rules, regulations and machinery in place, it is not surprising that the Lokpal has failed to meet expectations.
- The government should take urgent measure to frame the necessary rules & regulations to give real teeth and power to Lokpal