|BASIC AND BACKGROUND|
- Even much before the enactment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013) itself, many states had already set up the institution of Lokayuktas.
- The institution of Lokayukta was established first in Maharashtra in 1971
- Till 2013, 21 states and 1 Union Territory (Delhi) have established the institution of Lokyuktas.
|VARIATION ACROSS STATES|
- The structure of the lokayukta is not uniform in all the states.
- Some States like Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have created the lokayukta as well as upalo-kayukta, while some others like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have created only the lokayukta.
The lokayukta and upalokayukta are appointed by the Governor of the state after consulting Chief Justice of High Court and leader of the opposition party.
States like Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka and Assam prescribed for judicial qualifications, while Bihar, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have no such qualifications.
There is no uniformity regarding the jurisdiction of lokayukta in all the states.
- The chief minister is included within the jurisdiction of Lokayukta in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, while he is excluded from the purview of lokayukta in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Orissa.
- Ministers and higher civil servants are included in the purview of lokayukta in almost all the states. Maharashtra has also included former ministers and civil servants.
- Members of state legislatures are included in the purview of lokayukta in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
- The authorities of the local bodies, corporations, companies and societies are included in the jurisdiction of the lokayukta in most of the states.
|OTHER FEATURE OF LOKAYUKTA|
- The lokayukta presents, annually, to the governor of the state a consolidated report on his performance
- He takes the help of the state investigating agencies for conducting inquiries.
- He can call for relevant files and documents from the state government departments.
- The recommendations made by the lokayukta are only advisory and not binding on the state government.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Act, 2016
- The Bill amends the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 in relation to the declaration of assets and liabilities by public servants.
- The Lokpal Act requires a public servant to declare his assets and liabilities, and that of his spouse and dependent children. Such declarations must be made to the competent authority within 30 days of entering the office.
- The Bill replaces these provisions to state that a public servant will be required to declare his assets and liabilities. However, the form and manner of making such a declaration will be prescribed by the central government.
|POSITIVE FEATURES OF THE ACT|
It has a wide jurisdiction including Prime Minister of the country.
- It empowers citizens to complain to the Lokpal against corruption by public officials, thus Lokpal is a powerful tool for citizens to hold authorities accountable.
- It is applicable to public servants in and outside India. This indicates that Act has extraterritorial operation.
- Special courts and clear timelines at each stage can ensure that investigation is completed in time bound manner.
- Provisions for prosecution and punishment for filing false and frivolous or vexatious complaint will ensure that Lokpal is not misused for political gains or to settle other scores.
- Lokpal can issue directions to agencies in India like CBI, CVC while investigating, and prosecuting cases under the direction of Lokpal. This ensures independent functioning free from government interference.
|ISSUES WITH THE ACT|
- Requirement of Government Approval: The Act does not vest power of prior sanction with Lokpal for enquiry and investigation of government officials.
- Timeframe limitation: The Act envisages that the Lokpal shall not inquire into any complaint, made after seven years from the date on which the offence has been committed. This restricts the scope, especially in relation to some of the large and complex scams that are exposed from time to time.
- No Suo Moto power with Lokpal: The Lokpal has been deprived of the authority of taking suo moto cognizance of the cases of corruption and maladministration.
- Constitution of Lokayukta: The Act mandates establishment of the Lokayukta in every state within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act. However, there are many states who have not taken action in this regard.
- Power and Jurisdiction of the Lokayuktas in States: State legislatures are free to determine the powers and jurisdictions of the Lokayukta which may establish weak Lokayuktas.
|CHALLENGES TO THE INSTITUTION OF LOKPAL|
- There are loopholes in the law which needs betterment.
- There was an unjustified delay of 5 years in appointing Lokpal, which shows the lack of political will.
- Lokpal is not free from political influence as the appointing committee itself consists of members from political parties.
- There are vague terms like ‘eminent jurist’ or ‘a person of integrity’ which are not properly defined and can be manipulated.
- The Judiciary is excluded from the ambit of Lokpal.
- The Lokpal has not been given any constitutional backing.
- The complaint against corruption cannot be registered after a period of seven years from the date on which the offence mentioned in such complaint is alleged to have been committed.
|1ST ARC RECOMMENDATION|
- They should be demonstratively independent and impartial.
- Their investigations and proceedings should be conducted in private and should be informal in character.
- Their appointment should be, as far as possible, non-political.
- Their status should compare with the highest judicial functionaries in the country.
- They should deal with matters in the discretionary field involving acts of injustice, corruption or favouritism.
- Their proceedings should not be subject to judicial interference.
- They should have the maximum latitude and powers in obtaining information relevant to their duties.
- They should not look forward to any benefit or pecuniary advantage from the executive government.
- Lokpal can be given constitutional status to make it truly independent of political intervention.
- Some changes need to be made, such as ‘leader of opposition’
- Delays in appointments should be avoided. Also, the Lokayuktas in States should also be appointed without any delay.
- Implementation of the law needs to be foolproof, which will ultimately determine the success of the institution.