Context:

More than two years after the Lokpal came into being, the Centre is yet to appoint a director of inquiry for conducting preliminary inquiry into graft complaints sent by the anti-corruption ombudsman, according to a Right to Information reply.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional and Non-Constitutional Bodies, Policies and Interventions on Transparency and Accountability in governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Lokpal
  2. Other Important Points regarding the Lokpal
  3. Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020
  4. Exception for Prime Minister
  5. Other Provisions for Fighting Corruption
  6. About the Lokpal missing a director of inquiry

About Lokpal

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 establishes Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States (Statutory Bodies) to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.
  • Composition: Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% shall be judicial members and 50% shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
  • Appointment process: It is a two-stage process.
    1. A search committee which recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee.
    2. The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist (nominated by President based on the recommendation of other members of the panel).
  • President will appoint the recommended names.
  • The jurisdiction of Lokpal extends to:
    1. 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.
    2. The 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.
    3. Any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above Rs. 10 lakhs.

Other Important Points regarding the Lokpal

  1. Salaries, allowances and service conditions: Salaries, allowances and other perks 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.
  2. Inquiry wing and prosecution wing: Inquiry Wing for conducting preliminary inquiry and Prosecution Wing for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.
  3. Power with respect to CBI: Power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal. Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal would need approval of Lokpal.
  4. Timelines for enquiry, investigation: Act specifies a time limit of 60 days for completion of inquiry and 6 months for completion of investigation by the CBI. This period of 6 months can be extended by the Lokpal on a written request from CBI.
  5. Suspension, removal of Chairperson and member of Lokpal: The Chairperson or any Member shall be removed from his office by order of the President on grounds of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court report. For that a petition has to be signed by at least one hundred Members of Parliament. Special Court shall be setup to hear and decide the cases referred by the Lokpal.

Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020

  • Complaint can be filed with the Lokpal against the sitting Prime Minister, Union Ministers, MPs, bureaucrats, among others.
  • A complaint filed against a sitting or former prime minister shall be decided by full bench of Lokpal comprising of its Chairman and all members in admission stage.
  • If such complaint is dismissed by the full bench, records of enquiry are not to be published.
  • A complaint against Union Minister/ MP is to be looked into by bench of not less than three members.

Exception for Prime Minister

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
  • Complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.
  • Such an inquiry against the PM (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.

Other Provisions for Fighting Corruption

  1. Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 provides for penalties in relation to corruption by public servants and also for those who are involved in the abetment of an act of corruption.
  2. The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 aims to prevent instances of money laundering and prohibits use of the ‘proceeds of crime’ in India.
  3. The Companies Act, 2013 provides for corporate governance and prevention of corruption and fraud in the corporate sector.
  4. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulates the acceptance and use of foreign contributions and hospitality by individuals and corporations.

Along with the above legal frameworks, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 sets out provisions which can be interpreted to cover bribery and fraud matters, including offences relating to criminal breach of trust and cheating.

About the Lokpal missing a director of inquiry

  • According to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, there shall be a director of inquiry, not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India, who shall be appointed by the Central government for conducting preliminary inquiries referred to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) by the Lokpal.
  • According to provisions contained under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, complaints in respect of public servants belonging to groups A, B, C or D are referred by the Lokpal to the CVC for a preliminary inquiry.

-Source: The Hindu

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