Insights into Editorial: India’s First Lokpal Is Former Supreme Court Judge PC Ghose:
Retired Supreme Court judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose is the country’s first Lokpal, or the anti-corruption ombudsman. His appointment has been cleared by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Justice Ghose’s name was finalised and recommended by the Selection Committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The selection was made weeks after the February-end deadline set by the Supreme Court.
Eligible Conditions to become the Chairman of Lokpal:
A person “Who is or has been a Chief Justice of India, is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court, or an eminent person of impeccable integrity and outstanding ability having special knowledge and expertise of not less than 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management”.
A Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman who represents the public interest. The concept of an ombudsman is borrowed from Sweden.
Many repeated demands for such an ombudsman, many attempts were made at legislation, with Lokpal Bills introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008, but none of these was passed.
It was four decades after the introduction of the first Bill that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was enacted in December 2013.
This was the fallout of a public movement for a Jan Lokpal Bill, initiated by activist Anna Hazare and others such as Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal.
The term “Lokpal” was coined by Dr. L.M.Singhvi in 1963.
Lokayukts are present in many states while many of the states still do not have the Lokayukts. The powers given to them relating to corruption, etc have not been up to the mark.
Move to appoint Lokpal comes after pressure on government: Anna Hazare:
On February 5, Hazare ended his hunger strike after seven days following assurances from the government on the Lokpal and Lokayukta issues.
Hazare was on a hunger strike from January 30 demanding the setting up of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states to address the issues related to corruption.
Anna Hazare highlighted the issue that Lokpal is being appointed 9 years after the movement. The world is now seeing how powerful the public is. The Supreme Court is also very powerful.
The apex court had earlier asked the government about the steps being taken to appoint the Lokpal to deal with complaints of corruption in high places.
Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has said that the government was “forced” to take the step under pressure of the people’s movement and the apex court.
Who all remain to be selected in Lokpal?
- Justice Ghose was selected by committee headed by the Prime Minister.
- The same selection committee will choose the Lokpal’s other members. Under the 2013 Act, the Lokpal should consist of a chairperson and such number of members, not exceeding eight, of whom 50% should be judicial members.
- The selection procedure for these posts is the same as that for the chairperson. 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 Act states that not less than 50% of the members of the Lokpal should be from among persons belonging to the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
- The same rules apply members of the search committee. Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India and those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.
- Regarding Lokayukta, Every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted, by a law made by the State Legislature.
- If not established, they have to be established within one year from the date of the commencement of the Act. This is as per Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act.
- The establishment of Lokayukta and any appointment falls within the domain of the States.
The motive behind decades of struggle to implement the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 is to provide a forum to the citizenry where they can raise their voice against corruption without any fear.
In the past governments had enforced Institutions like Central Vigilance Commission and Central Bureau of Investigation but despite a few historic cases these institutions have mostly failed to prevent and/or curb the widespread corruption which has become a part and parcel of the daily lives of the citizens.
Such rampant corruption has necessitated the creation as well as implementation of Lokpal and Lokayukta.
Looking at the low ranking of India in Corruption on global level, there is a need to check the corruption by strong institutions.
Creation of the institution of Lokpal and Lokayukts by forming its members to function has come up as a welcome step.
But it shall function independent from any political influence so that a proper system of checks-and -balance is maintained in the federal and democratic system of India.
Therefore, there is a need for a mechanism that provides for simple, independent, speedy means of delivering justice by redressing the grievances of the people without succumbing to the clutches of the executive.
But if our past history is any proof India has several laws covering a plethora of subjects and area but has failed to execute the same effectively and in a timely manner and as we all know justice delayed is justice denied.
Any new piece of legislation even when implemented becomes lengthy and time consuming and stretched over years.
The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) recommended the enacting of the Office of a Lokpal, convinced that such an institution was justified, not only for removing the sense of injustice from the minds of citizens, but also to instill public confidence in the efficiency of the administrative machinery.
It is rightly said by Publius Cornelius Tecitus that “the more corrupt the state, the more laws”.