Mar 11, 2022

5 things you didn’t know about the Lokpal

The Bombay High Court has said that a Lokayukta has the authority to add a person as a participant in legal proceedings, even without notifying the person in advance.

What is the purpose of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas?

Our Constitution established India as a Democratic Republic to ensure justice for every person, and our Government has a commitment towards clean and responsive governance.

So, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was enacted in 2013 to ensure prompt and fair investigation and prosecution in cases of corruption. The Act establishes effective bodies like the Lokpal (Central level), and Lokayuktas (State level), to contain and punish acts of corruption. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas make inquiries in cases where public officials (Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Members of Parliament, public servants etc.) are accused of corruption.

Members of the Lokpal

The Lokpal consists of a Chairperson and a maximum of 8 other members, and half of these other members are judicial members. A judicial member is a person who is/was a Judge of the Supreme Court, or a Chief Justice of a High Court.

At least half of the Lokpal members are people belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and Women.

The Chairperson of the Lokpal is:

  1. a) someone who is/was a Chief Justice of India; or
  2. b) someone who is/was a Judge of the Supreme Court; or
  3. c) a renowned person of integrity and ability, having expertise of at least 25 years in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance, law etc.

Term of office for Lokpal Members

The Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal are appointed by the President based on the recommendations of a Selection Committee. They hold office as Lokpal members for a period of five years, or until they reach the age of seventy years (whichever is earlier).

The President can order the Chairperson or any Member to be removed from the Lokpal on grounds of misbehaviour. The President can do this after the Supreme Court holds an inquiry and reports that the Chairperson/Member should be removed.

Inquiry by the Lokpal

After receiving a complaint, the Lokpal can order an initial inquiry against any public servant to decide whether to proceed in the matter. The Lokpal sets up an Inquiry Wing which conducts an initial inquiry regarding charges of corruption against a public servant. Such an inquiry is normally completed within 90 days of receiving the complaint. However, the Lokpal can extend the inquiry period by an additional period of 90 days, after giving written reasons for the extension.

In case the Lokpal decides to proceed with the matter, it can order an investigation by any agency (including the Delhi Special Police Establishment). The Lokpal will normally direct a speedy investigation to be completed within 6 months. However, the Lokpal can extend the investigation period by 6 more months, after giving written reasons for the extension.

Prosecution by the Lokpal

The Lokpal can initiate legal proceedings against a public servant in relation to any complaint. After investigation, if the Lokpal finds that an offence of corruption has been committed by the public servant, it can file a case before the Special Court and submit its findings. The Lokpal’s report will be considered just like a report of a police officer filed after complete investigation.

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