In detail: Lokpal, powers and duties

Why in News?

  • Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh has been appointed as India’s first Lokpal.

 

Composition of Lokpal

  • The institution of Lokpal is a statutory body without any constitutional backing.
  • Lokpal is a multimember body consisting of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members, of which fifty percent shall be Judicial Members.
  • Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.

 

Appointment of the Lokpal

  • The selection of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection Committee consisting of:
    • Prime Minister
    • Speaker of LokSabha
    • Leader of Opposition the LokSabha
    • Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court Judge nominated by CJI
    • An eminent Jurist to be nominated by the President of India on basis of recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee “through consensus”.

 

Functionaries of Lokpal

  • The Lokpal has to appoint following functionaries to conduct preliminary inquiries and pursue prosecution-
    • A Secretary, of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, will be appointed by the Lokpal Chairperson from a panel of names prepared by the Central government.
    • An Inquiry Wing, headed by a Director of Inquiry, appointed by the Lokpal.
    • A Prosecution Wing, headed by a Director of Prosecutionappointed by the Lokpal.
    • Other officers and staff.

 

Jurisdiction of Lokpal

  • Public functionaries including Prime Minister, Ministers and Members of Parliament.
  • All categories of public servants including ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ officers and employees of Government.
  • 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 Centre.
  • All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year.

 

Disclosure of Assets

  • Public servants will have to declare their assets and liabilities in a prescribed form.
  • If they do not disclose any assets in their possession or provide any misleading information, it may be considered to be acquired by corrupt means.

 

Procedure for initiating with a complaint

  • A complaint under the Lokpal Act should be in the prescribed form.
  • It 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.

 

Against Prime Minister

  • The corruption charges against the Prime Minister can be inquired by the Lokpalif 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, if the allegations are related to-
    • International relations.
    • External and internal security.
    • Public order.
    • Atomic energy and space.
  • 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.

 

Against other public officers

  • After receiving a complaint, the Lokpal shall call for an explanation from the public servant to determine whether a prima faciecase exists. If there is a prima facie case-
    • The Lokpal may order a preliminary inquiry by its Inquiry Wing.
    • It may refer it for investigation by any agency, including the CBI.
  • The Lokpal, with respect to Central government servants, may refer the complaints to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
  • The CVC will send a report to the Lokpal regarding officials falling under Groups A and B; and proceed as per the CVC Act against those in Groups C and D.

 

Procedure of preliminary inquiry/investigation

  • There will be a ‘competent authority’ for each category of public servant-
    • For the Prime Minister, it is the LokSabha.
    • For other Ministers, it will be the Prime Minister.
    • For department officials, it will be the Minister concerned.
  • The Inquiry Wing or any other agency will have to complete its preliminary inquiry and submit a report to the Lokpal within 60 days.
  • It has to seek comments from both the public servant and “the competent authority,” before submitting its report.
  • A Lokpal Bench consisting of at least three members will consider the preliminary inquiry report.
  • After giving an opportunity to the public servant, the Lokpal bench will decide whether to proceed with the investigation.
    • It can order a full investigation.
    • Initiate departmental proceedings.
    • Close the proceedings.
    • In case of false allegations, it may also proceed against the complainant.
  • The preliminary inquiry should normally be completed within 90 days of receipt of the complaint.

 

Procedure for prosecution

  • The agency conducting the probe has to file its investigation report in the court of appropriate jurisdiction, and a copy before the Lokpal.
  • A Lokpal bench of at least three members after considering the investigation report-
    • May order the prosecution Wing to proceed against the public servant based on the agency’s chargesheet.
    • It may also ask the competent authority to take departmental action.
    • Direct the closure of the report.
  • The Lokpal will have to seek the comments of the ‘competent authority’ as well as the public servant before granting sanction for prosecution.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s