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What is Lokpal and Lokayukta? Kerala’s proposal to limit Lokayukta’s powers

What is Lokpal and Lokayukta? Kerala’s proposal to limit Lokayukta’s powers

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  • GS 2 || Polity || Non-Constitutional Bodies || Lokpal & Lokayukta

Why in the news?

Kerala’s proposal to limit Lokayukta’s powers

Historical background:

  • The ombudsman was first established in scandinavian countries.
  • The ombudsman was first established in Sweden in 1713, when the monarch appointed a “chancellor of justice” to act as an invigilator to oversee the operation of a wartime government.
  • Since 1713, the main duty of this ombudsman has been to ensure that royal officials behave properly.
  • The ombudsman’s office has been firmly ensconced in the Swedish constitution since 1809.
  • It is the parliamentary body responsible for reviewing and ensuring that judges, government officials, and other officials adhere to laws and other legal requirements.
  • In India, the Ombudsman is known as a lokpal or a lokayukta.
  • In the early 1960s, then-law minister Ashok Kumar Sen proposed a constitutional ombudsman in parliament.
  • The phrases lokpal and lokayukta were coined by Dr.L.M.Singhvi as an Indian form of ombudsman for the resolution of public issues, and they were passed by the Loksabha.
  • It was founded in 1968, but it was dissolved when the Lok Sabha was dissolved, and it has since expired in the Lok Sabha multiple times.

Need For Lokpal:

  • Inability to function independently: The majority of agencies, including the CBI, state vigilance departments, internal vigilance wings of various departments, and the state police’s Anti-corruption Branch, are unable to act independently.
    • In many circumstances, they must report to the same people, who are either accused themselves or are likely to be influenced by the accused.
  • Recommendations are rarely followed: Powerless Although the CVC and the Lokayuktas are self-governing, they lack authority. They’ve been given the title of advisory groups.
    • They encourage governments to penalise officers at the departmental level or prosecute them in court in one of two ways. When a minister or a senior official is called in, history shows that their advice is rarely heeded.
  • Lack of transparency and internal accountability: Internal accountability and transparency are lacking. There’s also the issue of these anti-corruption agencies’ internal openness and accountability.
    • There is now no independent and effective process in place to monitor if the staff of these anti-corruption institutions becomes corrupt.
    • That is why, despite the existence of numerous agencies, corrupt individuals are rarely prosecuted. Corruption has evolved into a high-profit, low-risk endeavour. There is no effective deterrent to corruption.
  • No separate and effective mechanism: Internal accountability and transparency are lacking. There’s also the issue of these anti-corruption agencies’ internal openness and accountability.
    • There is now no independent and effective process in place to monitor if the staff of these anti-corruption institutions becomes corrupt. That is why, despite the existence of numerous agencies, corrupt individuals are rarely prosecuted.
    • Corruption has evolved into a high-profit, low-risk enterprise. There is no effective deterrent to corruption. Our anti-corruption laws also contain a number of flaws that serve to protect the corrupt.

Moment that raise the demand of lokpal:

Anna Hazare was the driving force behind the “India Against Corruption” movement, which put pressure on the central government. As a result of the protests and campaign, both Houses of Parliament passed the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill in 2013. The President signed the bill in 2014, and it took effect in January of that year under the name “The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013”.

Appointment:

  • The ‘Lokpal’ will be made up of a Chairperson and up to eight members. At least half of the members must be from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities, and Women, and at least half of the members must be from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities, and Women.
  • The Lokpal’s chairperson should be a former Chief Justice of India or a former Supreme Court Judge, or an eminent person of impeccable integrity and exceptional ability with at least 25 years of special knowledge and expertise in anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance, insurance, banking, law, and management.

Issues with the appointment:

  • More than five years later, in 2019, the Lokpal’s first chairman and members were appointed. The process of building the Lokpal’s investigation and prosecution wings has yet to commence, and there are no rules in place for conducting preliminary inquiries.
  • The group is still located in a Delhi hotel owned by the government.
  • The Lokpal has yet to announce a procedure for filing complaints. Six years later, Lokpal still hasn’t received a prosecution team.
  • Despite adopting a logo and tagline last month, the Lokpal has yet to identify a process for filing complaints. Despite this stumbling barrier, 1,065 complaints were received by the Lokpal office.
  • The process of building the Lokpal Inquiry Wing in collaboration with the Indian government has yet to commence.
  • The asset and liabilities declaration guidelines for public officials have likewise not been made public.

Lokpal and Lokayukta Amendment Act, 2016:

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, which was introduced in 2013, was amended by Parliament in July 2016.
  • This bill also amended Section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013. Section 44 of the Act mandated that each public official disclose his or her assets and liabilities within 30 days of starting work for the government. This change took the place of the 30-day time limit.

Structure of the Lokpal:

  • The Lokpal is a multi-member body with one chairman and up to eight members, with the chairperson being either a Lokpal member or a Lokpal member:
    • Former Chief Justice of India;
    • Former Supreme Court Judge;
    • Alternatively, a well-known individual with impeccable integrity and great ability who must possess unique expertise and have a minimum of 25 years of experience in subjects relevant to the position:
  1. Anti-corruption policy;
  2. Vigilance;
  3. Public administration;
  4. Law and management
  5. Finance including insurance and banking.
  • A group of no more than eight people is allowed. At least half of the members must be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ minorities and women.
  • At least half of the members must be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ minorities and women; and at least half of the members must be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ minorities and women.
  • The Lokpal’s judicial member must be either a former Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of the High Court.
  • The applicant must have specialized knowledge and a minimum of 25 years of experience in the field:
    • Anti-corruption policy;
    • Public administration;
    • Vigilance;
    • Finance including insurance and banking
    • Law and management.

Powers of Lokpal:

  • The Jurisdiction of Lokpal extends to:
    • Prime Minister, Ministers,
    • Members of Parliament,
    • Groups A, B, C and D officers
    • Officials of Central Government.
  • It has the ability to monitor and instruct the CBI; if it has referred a case to the CBI, the investigating officer in that case cannot be removed without Lokpal’s consent;
  • It has the power to authorise the CBI to conduct search and seizure operations in connection with the case.
  • The Lokpal’s Inquiry Wing has been granted civil court-like powers.
  • Authoritarian right: Lokpal has the jurisdiction to seize assets, earnings, receipts, and benefits gained or received by corruption in extraordinary circumstances.
    • The Lokpal has the power to propose that a public employee accused of corruption be transferred or suspended.
    • During the preliminary investigation, Lokpal has the jurisdiction to make orders prohibiting the destruction of records..

Challenges associated with lokpal:

  • Corruption in India’s administrative system: The Lokpal organisation has endeavoured to bring much-needed reform to India’s administrative structure in the battle against corruption, but there are still loopholes and deficiencies that must be addressed.
    • States were obligated to appoint a Lokayukta within a year of the Lokpal Act assuming effect. However, the Lokayukta has only been established in 16 states.
  • Political influence: Since the appointing committee is made up of members from political parties, the Lokpal is not immune to political influence.
  • Influence in selection of lokpal: The selection of Lokpal can be affected because there is no standard for deciding who is a “eminent jurist” or “a person of integrity.”
  • The Whistleblower: Whistleblowers were not granted explicit immunity under the 2013 Act. If the accused is found not guilty, the possibility of an investigation into the complainant will only deter people from registering complaints.
  • Exclusion of the judiciary: The Lokpal’s omission of the judiciary from its jurisdiction is the most fundamental issue; the Lokpal has no constitutional backing, and there is no legal mechanism for challenging the Lokpal.
  • Power to state: The nomination of the Lokayukta has been left solely to the discretion of the states.
  • Freedom to some agencies: The CBI’s need for functional independence has been partially met by a change in the selection method for its Director brought about by this Act.
  • The complaint against corruption cannot be submitted beyond seven years from the date on which the claimed offence in the complaint was committed.

Way forward:

  • There are a number of flaws that need to be addressed, including no whistleblower protection and a five-year sentence for filing a false complaint, as well as government control via CBI. Audits should be conducted by Lokpal in all areas.
  • The Lokpal and its investigative agencies could be completely free to make the necessary changes.
  • The Lokpal will not be able to work efficiently if he is left alone. As a result, the Right of Citizens for Timely Delivery of Goods and Services and Redress of Grievances Bill, 2011 (Citizens Charter Bill), the Whistleblowers Protection Bill, and the Judicial Accountability Bill should have been passed concurrently.
  • As a result, while the Lokpal is a huge step forward, how well it is executed will determine its usefulness.

Mains oriented question:

Citizens are equally to fault for corruption spreading so far into a nation’s system, because it is not just administrative personnel who are on the wrong side of the law. Illustrate. (250 words)