Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India on 1 January 2014 gave his assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013. With this accent, the Bill has turned to be an Act. It provides creation of an anti-graft watchdog that will bring under its purview to even the office of the Prime Minister with certain safeguards.
The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha during the winter session on 18 December 2013. Earlier, the amended Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 17 December 2013.
A copy of the Bill, which was signed by Meira Kumar, the Speaker of Lak Sabha was sent to the Law Ministry by the secretariat on 1 January 2014. Further, the same was forwarded for President’s assent to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
After the signing by the President, the Bill has taken a shape of an Act following certain procedures. For publication of the Act in the official gazette, the Bill will be sent for signing to the Secretary of Legislative Department in the Law Ministry after the assent of the President.
The Bill aims to set-up an institution of Lokpal at Centre and Lokayuktas in the states by the law enacted by respective legislatures within one year from the date of its coming into effect.
Earlier in 2011, the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha during its winter session, but was debated in Rajya Sabha till the adjournment of its session before voting. Further, a select committee of Rajya Sabha suggested some changes in the Bill of which maximum were incorporated and approved by the Union Cabinet.
Important features of the Act are
• As per the Act a Lokpal will be at the centre level and Lokayukta’s will be at the states levels
• A Lokpal consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50 percent should be of judicial members
• The Act provides that 50 percent of the total members of the Lokpal should be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women
• The Chairperson and members of the Lokpal will be selected through a selection committee, which include the Prime Minister of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, Lok Sabha’s leader of opposition, the Chief Justice of India or the Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice. Then the President of India will nominate the eminent Jurist on the basis of the recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee
• The Prime Minister has been brought under the purview of the Lokpal
• The jurisdiction of the Lokpal will cover all the categories of the public servant
• Under its also comes any/all entities, which will receive the donations from a foreign source in excess of 10 lakh rupees in context of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)
• The Act will provide adequate protection to the honest and upright public servants
• The Act provide Lokpal the right to superintendence and direct any investigation agency including the CBI on the cases, which will be referred to them from the Lokpal itself
• The Director of the CBI will be recommended by the high power committee that will be chaired by the Prime Minister of India
• Director will control the Directorate of Prosecution that is headed by the Director of Prosecution
• The Central Vigilance Commission will recommend the Director of Prosecution, CBI for appointment
• Lokpal’s approval will be required for the transfer’s of the officers of CBI, who are investigating the cases referred by the Lokpal
• The Act gives the provisions to attach and confiscate the property that has been acquired by corrupt means even in the case that the prosecution of the case remains pending
• Clear time lines for preliminary enquiry and trial has been layed in the Act. It also mentions setting-up of special courts towards the end of the trial
• It mentions that a mandate for setting up the Lokayukta institution through enactment of a law by the State Legislature within 365 days from the date on which the Act was commenced
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