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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

The authority and significance of Lokpal

The Lokpal can initiate a preliminary investigation after it receives a complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2019 07:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
The office of Lokpal comprises a chairperson and up to eight members.
The office of Lokpal comprises a chairperson and up to eight members.(Twitter)
         

What is Lokpal?

A national anti-corruption ombudsman to look into complaints against public servants as defined under the Lokpal Act, 2013. The office of Lokpal comprises a chairperson and up to eight members. The chairperson can be current or former judges of the SC or chief justices of HCs. Members should have least 25 years of experience in matters related to anti-corruption policy, vigilance, public administration, finance, law and management.

Powers of Lokpal

The Lokpal can initiate a preliminary investigation after it receives a complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. If the complaint is found to be true, the Lokpal can ask the government to take disciplinary action against the public servant and also file a case in a special court to be set up by the Centre.

Who all can Lokpal investigate?

According to the Lokpal Act, 2013, the ombudsman can investigate persons in seven categories — a prime minister after s/he demits office; current and former ministers; current and former MPs; all Group A officers of the central government; all Group A-equivalent officers of PSUs and other government bodies; directors and officers of NGOs which receive government funds; directors and officers of NGOs which receive funds from the public and have an annual income above Rs 10 lakh from a foreign contributor and Rs 1 crore from the government.

The investigation and trial process?

A preliminary inquiry should be completed within 30 days of receiving a complaint. The period can be extended to further three months. A full inquiry has to be completed within six months, extendable by another six months. Trial should be completed within a year of filing the case; the time period can be extended to a maximum of two years. Lokpal does not need prior sanction from the government to investigate a complaint

Who selects Lokpal?

A five-member selection panel comprising the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice of India, and an eminent jurist nominated by the President.

How can Lokpal be removed?

The President can make a reference to the Supreme Court either on his own or if 100 MPs sign a petition seeking the removal of the chairperson or any of the members. If the SC, after an inquiry, finds the charges to be true, s/he should be removed by President.

How was Lokpal law enacted?

In January 2011, the government formed a Group of Ministers to suggest measures to tackle corruption, including the examination of the proposal of a Lokpal Bill following a protest in Delhi by Anna Hazare. In July 2011, the Union cabinet approved the bill, and both Houses passed it in December 2013.

Anti-corruption offices similar to Lokpal in other countries

According to PRS Legislative Research, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the
Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, Burkina Faso and the United Kingdom are some of the
countries which have the office of an ombudsman.

What next?

Once the Lokpal takes charge, the process to search and select eight members will start.