Lokpal an Anti-Corruption Ombudsman: Meaning and Powers
What is Lokpal?
Lokpal is a national anti corruption ombudsman to look into complaints against publics servants which are defined under the Lokpal Act 2013. This body is constituted to check the menace of corruption in India.
1. This Act may be called the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
2. It extends to the whole India.
3. It shall apply to public servants in India and abroad.
History of Lokpal;
The Lokpal bill has been introduced nine times (1968, 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1998, 2001, 2011 and 2013) in the Lok Sabha.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 received the assent of the President on the January 1st, 2014, and published for information of general Public.
An Act of 2013 clears the way to establish the body of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public servants.
Which countries of the world have Lokpal?
These countries of the world also have the office of anti corruption officers which is similar to Lokpal ombudsman of India.
1. United Kingdom
3. Burkina Faso
Composition of the Lokpal
The office of Lokpal Comprises of a Chairman and upto 8 members. The chairman of the Lokpal can be current or former judge of the Supreme Court or the chief justice of High Courts.
An eminent person i.e. he is a person of neat and clean image and outstanding ability having special knowledge and expertise of not less than 25 years in the matters relating to;
i. Anti Corruption Policy
ii. Public administration
iv. Law and Management
v. Finance including insurance and banking
Note: As per the provisions of the act; 50% of the members of the Lokpal shall be from the community of Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and Women.
Select Committee to Appoint Lokpal is comprises of;
i. Prime Minister
ii. Chief justice of India or his nominee
iii. Lok Sabha Speaker
iv. Leader of Opposition
v. An eminent jurist nominated by the President of India
How can Lokpal be removed?
To remove the Lokpal 100 members of the Parliament need to sign the petition seeking the removal of the chairman of the Lokpal or any other members. This matter will be investigated by the Supreme Court and if SC finds the charges to be true then SC suggests the president to remove the Lokpal from the post.
Another way to remove the Lokpal is self reference of the President (on the advice of the cabinet) to the Supreme Court, which can investigate the charges.
Powers of the Lokpal are as follows;
If the Lokpal receives a complaint under the prevention of corruption act 1988, then it can initiate the investigation. If the complaint found true in the investigation then the Lokpal can ask the government to take disciplinary action against the accused public servants or can file a corruption case in a special court.
Salary and allowances of the chairman and members;
The Chairman of the Lokpal shall enjoy the same salary and allowance as of Chief Justice of India while members shall receive the same salary and allowance as those enjoyed by the justices of Supreme Court.
Who can be investigated by the Lokpal?
As per the provision of the Lokpal Act, it can investigate persons of seven categories namely;
1. Prime Minister if he/she demits the office.
2. Current and former Cabinet Ministers.
3. Current and former Members of Parliament.
4. All the class 1 officers of the Central Government like (Secretaries, Joint Secretaries etc.)
5. All the class 1 equivalent officers of the Public Sector Undertakings and other government bodies.
6. Directors and other officers of the Non Government Organisations which receives funding from the Central Government.
7. Directors and other officers of the Non Government Organisations which receives the fund from the public and which have annual income of more than Rs. 10 lac from a foreign contributor and receives Rs. 1 cr from the government.
In the concluding remarks it would be wise to say that before Lokpal; India already have some anti corruption agencies like Central Vigilance Commissioner, Central Bureau of Investigation but the practice of corruption is still prevalent in the country.
So the composition of another anti corruption agency will not create much difference because the corruption is in the minds of the general public, who promote corruption in the daily life to benefit themselves.