India's first Lokpal

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    19th Mar, 2019

Context

  • Former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose has been appointed as the first Lokpal, a national anti-corruption ombudsman.
  • This comes five years after the President had given assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

About

  • A Lokpal is an anti-corruption ombudsman who represents the public interest. The concept of an ombudsman is borrowed from Sweden.

Who will be covered under the Act?

  • A wide range of public servants – from Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Ministers and MPs, to groups A, B, C and D employees of the central government – come under the purview of the act.
  • The Act also includes the Lokpal’s own members under the definition of “public servant”. The Chairperson, Members, officers and other employees of the Lokpal shall be deemed, when acting or purporting to act in pursuance of any of the provisions of this Act, to be public servants.
  • A complaint under this Act shall only relate to a period during which the public servant was holding or serving in that capacity.

Who will be selected in Lokpal?

  • A search committee will prepare a panel of candidates, a selection committee will recommend names from among this panel, and the President will appoint these as members.
  • The Lokpal should consist of a chairperson and such number of members, not exceeding eight. The selection process of other members is same as that of chairperson. Of this 50% should be judicial members. At least 50% should be from SCs, STs, OBCs, Women or minorities.
  • Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.

What happens after the selections to anti-corruption Ombudsman:

  • The Lokpal will set about creating its various wings.
  • It will have an Inquiry Wing, headed by the Director of Inquiry, for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • It will also have a Prosecution Wing, headed by the Director of Prosecution, for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.
  • Once the other members of the Lokpal are appointed, the process for more appointments will start: Secretary, Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution and other officers and staff of the Lokpal.

                Background

    • The term "Lokpal" was coined by Dr. L.M.Singhvi in 1963.
    • The concept of a constitutional ombudsman was first proposed in parliament by Law Minister Ashoke Kumar Sen in the early 1960s.
    • The first Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) recommended the enacting of the Office of a Lokpal.
    • Forty five years after its first introduction and after ten failed attempts, the Lokpal Bill was finally enacted in India on 18 December 2013.
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