- May 4, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Section: National Bodies
Context: Lokpal to get a new office at World Trade Centre building
- On March 19, 2019, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh was appointed India’s first Lokpal along with eight other members.
- The appointment itself was made five years after the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act was passed in 2013 to investigate cases of corruption against certain categories of public servants.
Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013:
- The Act allows for setting up of anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre.
- Composition: The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.
- Chairperson should have been a Chief Justice of India, or is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court, or an eminent person who fulfils eligibility criteria as specified.
- 50% of the members are to be judicial members provided that not less than 50% of the members belong to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, minorities, and women.
- Inquiry Wing: Lokpal will have an Inquiry Wing for conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- Prosecution Wing: It will also have a Prosecution Wing for the prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.
- The Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
- As per the Act, the Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe. Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
- An investigation must be completed within six months. However, the Lokpal or Lokayukta may allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.
- Special courts will be instituted to conduct trials on cases referred by Lokpal.
- Jurisdiction of Lokpal: It covers a wide range of public servants — from the Prime Minister (PM), ministers and MP, to groups A,B,C,D officers of the central government including the chairperson and members of the Lokpal. However, there are some exceptions for PM:
- Lokpal cannot inquire allegations against the PM relating to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
- Also, complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds 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.
- Once the search committee submits its recommendation for the Lokpal and its members, a selection committee will consider those names and forward them to the President for his consideration.
- The five-member selection committee comprises the following –Prime Minister (chairperson), Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition, Chief Justice of India and An Eminent jurist nominated by the President.