What is Lokpal:
Lokpal is a statutory body performing the functions of ombudsman. It was established under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, to investigate and enquire the bribery and corruption complaints of a public official, ministers and secretaries to the government and all the matters related to it at the union level. The main purpose of establishing Lokpal was to control the increasing number of complaints under the Prevention of Corruption Act.[i]
Jurisdiction of Lokpal:
Lokpal exercises its jurisdiction over various authorities, such as :-
- Prime Minister, Ministers, members of Parliament, Groups A, B, C and D officers and officials of Central Government.
- The Prime Minister except on allegations of corruption relating to international relations, security, the public order, atomic energy and space.
- Any central government employee working in or outside India.
- Any person who is or has been a director/ manager/ secretary of anybody/ society set up by central act or any other body financed/ controlled by central government and any other person involved in act the of abetting, bribe giving or bribe taking.
- The Lokpal does not have jurisdiction over Ministers and MPs in the matter of anything said in Parliament or a vote given there.[ii]
- Lokpal shall consist of 8 members including the Chairperson. The chairperson shall be the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
- Among the 8 members of the body, 50% shall be judicial personnel and the remaining 50% shall be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minorities and women.
- The judicial personnel shall be a former Supreme Court judge or former Chief Justice of any High Court. Other non-judicial personnel shall be an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
- These members are appointed by The President after recommending it with the Selection Committee. Which includes The Prime Minister (the Chairperson), Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a Judge nominated by him/her and One eminent jurist.[iii]
- The complaint shall be in the prescribed form and be made in the prescribed manner.
- Anyone can make a complaint.
- Preliminary inquire be made by the Inquire Wing, or be investigated by any agency to check if prima facie case exists.
- The public servant shall be given an opportunity to explain if prima facie case exists, before making an order for investigation.
- The complaints against the Central government employees is referred to Central Vigilance Commission. Which would send a report regarding personnel under Group A & B, and would proceed as per CVC Act against the personnel under Group C & D.[iv]
- Lokpal has the power to ask the public officials to furnish documents relating their and dependent’s assets and liabilities under The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
- It has a supervisory power over, and has the power to direct CBI.
- The Inquiry Wing of Lokpal has the powers of a Civil Court.
- It has the powers of confiscation of assets, proceeds, receipts and benefits arisen or procured by means of corruption in special circumstances.
- It has the power to recommend transfer or suspension of public servant in case of allegation of corruption.
- It has the power to give directions to prevent the destruction of records during the preliminary inquiry.[v]
The Need for Lokpal:
Lokpal was established for the following reasons :-
- As most of the Anti-corruption agencies in India are not independent, they may have to report to the person accused or the person who might be influenced by the accused.
- Some agencies like CVC or Lokayukta are independent but are powerless, they are made into advisory bodies who’s advice are rarely followed.
- Neither there is internal transparency and accountability in such anti-corruption agencies, nor there is any effective mechanism to check on these agencies for they have become corrupt.
- The anti-corruption laws followed in our country has a number of critical deficiencies, which is advantageous in protecting the corrupt.[vi]
Cases and illustrations:
The Government of QRS, by a project constructs a National Highway from State X to State Y for a budget of 200 Crore rupees. The Chief Ministers of the States X and Y together paid bribe to the Comptroller and Auditor General to manipulate the accounts with respect to the Monetization of National Highway Fund and reflect the amount as 450 Crore rupees. In the instant case, any citizen may approach Lokpal to take action against the authorities with a charge of corruption.
From the above provided information, one can conclude that a person can approach Lokpal if he/she has been a victim of corruption or witnessed the commission of such offence and wants the Public official at the central level to be exposed and be punished for committing such offence. A Public official can be punished for not just committing the offenses under Prevention of Corruption Act, but also for abetting an other official at the central level to give or take bribe. Therefore, whenever an official at the central level takes bribe to do his job, for which the government pays him salary, such official can be punished before the Lokpal under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] Key differences, Difference Between Lokayukta and Lokpal, 29 Mar 2018. https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-lokayukta-and-lokpal.html
[ii] Drishti, Lokpal and Lokayukta, 26 Feb 2019. https://www.drishtiias.com/important-institutions/drishti-specials-important-institutions-national-institutions/lokpal-lokayukta-ombudsman-upsc-governance-transparency
[iii] Legal Service India, Lokpal, http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-50-lokpal.html
[iv] The Hindu, What are the powers and duties of Lokpal?, 23 Mar 2019. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/what-are-the-powers-and-duties-of-lokpal/article26619763.ece
[v] Drishti, Lokpal and Lokayukta, 26 Feb 2019. https://www.drishtiias.com/important-institutions/drishti-specials-important-institutions-national-institutions/lokpal-lokayukta-ombudsman-upsc-governance-transparency
[vi] Legal Service India, Lokpal, http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-50-lokpal.html