Lokpal & Lokayuktas

Why is it in News?

P. C. Ghose was recently chosen as the 1st Lokpal of India.

About Lokpal:

  • The term ‘Lokpal’ was first coined by Laxmi Mall Singhvi in 1968.
  • A Lokpal is a statutory body and an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman who represents public interest. The idea of an ombudsman is borrowed from Sweden.
  • Lokpal & Lokayukta Act 2013 lays the guidelines about the Jurisdiction of Lokpal in India.

Why was Lokpal the need of Hour in India?

On Corruption Perception Index, India was ranked at 78 among 180 countries in 2018. Thus it is quite evident that corruption has become endemic to India and an independent agency was needed to weed out that malaise.

Appointment of Lokpal:

  • Lokpal is appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee headed by Prime Minister which includes the Chief Justice of India, Speaker, Lok Sabha and Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha and an eminent Jurist as its member.
  • At present Mukul Rohatgi is occupying the place of the eminent Jurist in the committee.
  • Lokpal at the centre will consist of a Chairperson along with 8 other members. Out of 9 members, 50% have to be judicial members and 50% of the members shall be from SC, ST, women, OBC, minorities.

Salaries & Allowances of Lokpal:

  • Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as that for the Chief Justice of India.
  • For other members, these will be the same as that for a Judge of the Supreme Court.
  • All expenses of Lokpal will be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

Tenure:

Tenure of Lokpal and its member is 5 years or 70 years of age, whichever is earlier.

Who all does the Act cover?

  • Lokpal will have Jurisdiction from the Prime Minister, ministers and MPs, to group A, B, C and D employees of the central government.
  • Also covered are chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre.
  • It also covers any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above Rs. 10 lakh.

What happens when a Charge is made against the Prime Minister?

  • The Act 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 an inquiry and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.
  • Such 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.

How is the Inquiry done by Lokpal?

  • The Lokpal may, after receiving a complaint against any public servant, 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.

Removal of Lokpal:

For the removal of Lokpal, a petition signed by 100 MPs shall be moved to the President and if after the enquiry of Supreme Court, Lokpal is found guilty, he can then be removed by the President on the grounds of misbehaviour.

Reappointment:

Lokpal is not eligible for reappointment, but Lokpal members can become the Chairperson if the tenure is left (If they have age less than 70 years).

Critical Analysis:

  • Lokpal & Lokayukta Act states that states shall have Lokayuktas within 1 year; this dictate itself is an encroachment in the legislative domain of states.
  • Under the ambit of Lokpal, there is a narrow niche of officers who will come under its domain, maximum officers will be under the ambit of Lokayuktas and most of the states have no lokayuktas. Hence, the only way out is to take States on board and then only it can be effectively implemented.
Source: TH, IE