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The Jan Lokpal & the Lokayukts

The Lokpal institution is a tool for preventing corruption and fostering an effective and accountable government in India. The word "Lokpal" means "caretaker of people" or "people's friend" in Sanskrit. Both the Lokpal and the Lokayukta investigate allegations of corruption on a state and federal level, respectively. It enables allegations of corruption against the prime minister, other ministers, MPs, and group A, B, C, and D personnel of the central government to be filed with the Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman, which has the Administrative Reforms Committee of a Lokpal at its core and Lokayukta in the states, is where the fundamental concept of a Lokpal was taken.


The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, which was introduced in 2011, serves as the foundation for the Lokpal Act in its current form, even though a bill to establish an anti-corruption commission was introduced up to eight times between 1968 and 2011. Except for the Samajwadi party, all major political parties supported the amended Bill, which was referred to as the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013, which was then approved by Parliament and became the Lokpal Act of 2013. Dr. L.M. Singhvi first used the word "Lokpal" in 1963.


The Jan Lokpal Bill, also known as the Citizen's Ombudsman Bill, is a planned anti-corruption law that was created by well-known civil society activists. It calls for the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an impartial body that would look into corruption cases, finish its investigation within a year, and hold trials for those cases the following year.


The draft Bill, which was created by Justice Santosh Hegde, a former Supreme Court justice and the Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan, a Supreme Court lawyer, and Arvind Kejriwal, a staunch advocate of the right to information, called for the imprisonment of corrupt individuals who are found guilty within two years of the filing of a complaint and the confiscation of their illicit assets. It also aimed to give Jan Lokpal the authority to charge officials like politicians and bureaucrats without seeking authorization from the executive branch.


The History of Lokpal in India

  • The first Administrative Reforms Commission's report was the first significant advancement. It proposed the appointment of a Lokpal at the Center and a Lokayukta at the State as remedial steps to stop the deterioration of administration.

  • Similar to this, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission emphasized the need to enhance the Lokpal and Lokayukta to combat corruption in government.

  • Adv. Shanti Bhushan put out the first Jan Lokpal Bill in 1968, which was approved by the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but was not approved by the Rajya Sabha. When Ashoke Kumar Sen was the Law Minister in the Rajiv Gandhi administration, "Lokpal bills" were afterward proposed in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005, and 2008, but they were never passed.

  • The Lokpal bill was introduced in Parliament on several occasions. In the end, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act was established in 2013, which was followed by the well-known Jan Lokpal campaign led by Anna Hazare and his supporters. Since the relevant Act of Parliament was approved in India in March 2019 and ever since. On March 23, 2019, a committee made up of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan appointed retired Supreme Court judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the country's first Lokpal. The committee's members were chosen effective March 27, 2019.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

  • A Lokpal (Ombudsman) would be established to combat corruption in public offices and enforce responsibility on the part of public authorities, including the Prime Minister, under the historic Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, which was enacted by the Indian Parliament.

  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, states that the organization consists of a Chairperson and up to eight other members. Out of the eight members, four are judges who are or have served as Chief Justices of High Courts or Judges of the Supreme Court.

  • The remaining four members, who are not judges, are individuals of the highest integrity and ability, with at least 25 years of particular knowledge and experience in the fields of public administration, vigilance, and finance, including insurance and banking, law, and management.

  • A minimum of 50% of the Members must come from women, minorities, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, or other backward classes.

Jurisdictions and Functions


The following are subject to a Lokpal investigation regarding allegations of corruption:

  • Present or past Prime-minister.

  • ministers serving in the Union government now or in the past.

  • Members of the legislature.

  • Union government employees fall into categories A, B, C, and D.

  • The Lokpal has been given no authority over the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, or Indian Navy. The CBI's independence is maintained under the measure.

  • Additionally, "chairpersons, members, executives, and directors of any board, company, society, trust, or autonomous entity either constituted by an act of parliament or entirely or partially sponsored by the union or state government" are included in the scope of the Act.


Organizational Structure


The Chairperson and the other members are appointed by the President of India based on recommendations of a selection committee that consists of the following persons:

  • The Prime Minister—Chairperson;

  • The Speaker of the Loksabha—member;

  • The leader of opposition in the house of the people—member;

  • The Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the President—member;

  • One eminent jurist, as recommended by the Chairperson, and four members (referred above) and nominated by the President—member.

  • The Act further states that "the nomination of a Chairperson or a Member shall not be invalidated because of any vacancy in the Selection Committee. Transparency in the selection process for the Lokpal's chairperson and members is also necessary.

  • The institution of Lokpal has two main branches: the judicial branch and the administrative branch. The Judicial officer heads the judicial branch that performs judicial functions. The administrative branch is headed by an officer of the rank of secretary to the government of India. It consists of

  • Inquiry/investigation branch is headed by an officer, not below the rank of

  • additional secretary to govt. of India.

  • Prosecution wing is headed by an officer, not below the rank of additional

  • Secretary to govt. of India.

  • Central registry

  • Scrutiny wing

  • Establishment, coordination, media, and publication

  • Budget, finances, and accounts.


Procedure of Complaints

  • An offense under the "Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988" should be mentioned in the complaint. It should be in the format specified.

  • No one is prohibited from filing a complaint under the Act. If there is a prima facie case, the Lokpal may order a preliminary investigation by its Inquiry Wing or any other agency or send the complaint for investigation by anybody, including the CBI.

  • The Lokpal requests an explanation from the public employee to decide whether a prima facie case exists or if further inquiry is necessary. The Act states that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) shall be contacted regarding concerns against central government employees.

  • The Lokpal institution has an Inquiry Wing, headed by the Director of Inquiry, to conduct a preliminary inquiry into any offense alleged to have been committed by a public servant which is punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The CVC will send a report to the Lokpal regarding officials falling under groups A and B, and proceed as per the CVC Act against those in groups C and D.

  • Both the inquiry and the investigation must be finished within 60 days and six months, respectively. Only after speaking with the public servant may Lokpal issue an investigative order.

  • After considering the preliminary inquiry report and providing the accused public servant a chance to present his or her defense, a Lokpal Bench of at least three members will determine whether to move further with the probe. It has the authority to order a thorough inquiry, start departmental proceedings, or end the current ones. If the claim is untrue, it may also continue against the complainant.

  • After conducting the inquiry, the agency is required to file its findings before the court with jurisdiction over the matter, and a copy of the report must also be filed with the Lokpal. The report will be taken into consideration by a bench of at least three members, who may then authorize the Prosecution Wing to bring charges against the public worker based on the agency's charge sheet. Additionally, it could request departmental action from the appropriate authority or order the report to be closed.

  • A defined form must be used by public employees to report their assets and liabilities. If any assets discovered in their possession are not disclosed, or if false information is provided about them, it may be assumed that the assets were obtained illegally. For employees of State governments, the States must establish Lokayuktas to handle accusations against their officials.


CONCLUSION


Since corruption is one of the main barriers to effective government in our nation, the Lokpal institution offers hope for its elimination. The institution does, however, have certain drawbacks. Because representatives of political parties make up the appointment committee, the Lokpal is subject to political influence. Further manipulation is possible due to the open-ended requirements of an "eminent jurist" or "a person of integrity." Additionally, the Act itself deters individuals from filing complaints by allowing for legal action to be taken against the complainant if the accused is later proven innocent. The judiciary is moreover not included in the scope of the Lokpal.


The specific 90 methods for Lokayukta appointment is left to the states' discretion, and in the majority of instances, it is seen that the states do nothing. Despite these drawbacks, this institution has the potential to be effective. The crucial step in bolstering Lokpal and Lokayuktas is ensuring their independence in the areas of finance, law, and administration. To enable an unbiased and effective investigation into corruption, Lokpal and Lokayukta appointments should be as open as feasible. The citizenry must empower themselves through various civil society groups and must be vigilant against administrative malfeasance.


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