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Appointment of Lokpal

Topics covered:

  1. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  2. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Appointment of Lokpal

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Lokpal- powers, functions and appointment, features of Lokpal and Lokayukta Act.
  • For Mains: Significance and issues associated.

 

Context: The government recently informed the Supreme Court that a eight-member search committee has been constituted in September 2018 for zeroing in on eligible candidates for Lokpal and the anti-corruption authority will frame its own rules of functioning. The panel is led by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.

 

Background:

A contempt petition has been filed in the court against the government for not appointing Lokpal despite an April 2017 judgment by the Supreme Court. The court has for the past several months been constantly urging the government to complete the Lokpal appointment.

 

Highlights of the Lokpal Act of 2013:

  • The Act allows setting up of anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State-level.
  • The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.
  • The Lokpal will cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister. But the armed forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal.
  • The Act also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.
  • The States will have to institute Lokayukta within one year of the commencement of the Act.
  • The Act also ensures that public servants who act as whistleblowers are protected.

Powers:

  • The Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
  • As per the Act, the Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe. Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
  • An investigation must be completed within six months. However, the Lokpal or Lokayukta may allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.
  • Special courts will be instituted to conduct trials on cases referred by Lokpal.

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Comment on the changes made to Lokpal Act and its delay in operationalisation