Polity & Governance
3rd Dec, 2019
Anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal released its logo and motto.
- The logo is in tricolour representing the national essence of Lokpal.
- A Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority or body of ombudsman who represents the public interest in the Republic of India.
- The current Chairperson of Lokpal is Pinaki Chandra Ghose.
- The Lokpal has jurisdiction over central government to inquire into allegations of corruption against its public functionaries and for matters connected to corruption.
- The Lokpal is responsible for enquiring into corruption charges at the national level while the Lokayukta performs the same function at the state level.
Powers of the Lokpal
- The Lokpal has jurisdiction to inquire into allegations of corruption against anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D.
- Also covered are chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Union or State government.
- It also covers any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above ?10 lakh
- The Lokpal, however, cannot inquire into any corruption charge against the Prime Minister if the allegations are related to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space, unless a full Bench of the Lokpal, consisting of its chair and all members, considers the initiation of a probe, and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.
- Such a hearing should be held in camera, and if the complaint is dismissed, the records shall not be published or made available to anyone.
- A complaint under the Lokpal Act should be in the prescribed form and must pertain to an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act against a public servant.
- There is no restriction on who can make such a complaint.
- When a complaint is received, the Lokpal may order a preliminary inquiry by its Inquiry Wing, or refer it for investigation by any agency, including the CBI, if there is a prima facie case.
- Before the ordering of an investigation by the agency, the Lokpal shall call for an explanation from the public servant to determine whether a prima facie case exists.
- The Lokpal, with respect to Central government servants, may refer the complaints to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013
- Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any central investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
- A high-powered committee chaired by the PM will recommend selection of CBI director. The collegium will comprise PM, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India PM has been brought under purview of the Lokpal, so also central ministers and senior officials.
- Directorate of prosecution will be under overall control of CBI director. At present, it comes under the law ministry.
- Appointment of director of prosecution to be based on recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission.
- Director of prosecution will also have a fixed tenure of two years like CBI chief.
- Transfer of CBI officers investigating cases referred by Lokpal with the approval of watchdog.
- Bill incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
- Bill lays down clear timelines for preliminary enquiry and investigation and trial. Provides for special courts Public servants will not present their view before preliminary enquiry if the case requires 'element of surprise' like raids and searches.
- Bill grants powers to Lokpal to sanction prosecution against public servants.
- CBI may appoint a panel of advocates with approval of Lokpal, CBI will not have to depend on govt advocates.