THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 March 2020 (Need and issues in Lokpal (The Hindu))



Need and issues in Lokpal (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Polity 
Prelims level:  Lokayukta Act
Mains level: Jurisdiction and the power of Lokpal

Context:

  • After six years of coming into effect of Lokpal and LokayuktaAct, 2013, it is yet to play a significant role in tacklingcorruption in the country. 

Basicsof Lokpal and Lokayukta Act:

  • It establishes Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta forStates to inquire into allegations of corruption againstcertain public functionaries.
  • It provides for an Enquiry Wing and a Prosecution Wingto deal with cases of corruption.
  • The Inquiry wing conducts preliminary inquiry intoalleged cases of corruption against public servants underPrevention of Corruption Act, 1988 whereas theProsecution Wing file cases before the Special Court toprosecute public servants under Prevention of CorruptionAct, 1988.

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Establishment of Lokpal: 

  • Lokpal shall consist of a Chairperson, who is or has been aChief Justice of India or is or has been a Judge of theSupreme Court or an eminent person,
  • It shall have a maximum of eight members of which halfshall be judicial members.
  • The Chairperson and Members shall be appointed by thePresident after obtaining the recommendations of a
  • Selection Committee consisting of—
  • the Prime Minister—Chairperson;
  • the Speaker of the House of the People—Member;
  • the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People—Member;
  • the Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Courtnominated by him—Member;
  • one eminent jurist, as recommended by the Chairpersonand Members.
  • The Chairperson and every Member shall, on therecommendations of the Selection Committee, be appointed by the President by warrant under his handand seal and hold office as such for a term of five yearsor until he attains 70 years of age (whichever is earlier).

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Jurisdiction and the power of Lokpal:  

  • Lokpal have jurisdiction to inquire allegations of corruptionagainst Prime Minister, Ministers, members of Parliament,officers belonging to Group A, B, C and D and officials ofCentral Government.
  • The Lokpal on receipt of a complaint, may orderpreliminary inquiry against any public servant by itsInquiry Wing or any agency including the Delhi SpecialPolice Establishment.
  • Lokpal shall refer complaints of corruption against publicservants to Central Vigilance Commission and the CVCafter making preliminary enquiry –
  • In respect of public servants belonging to Group A andGroup B - shall submit its report to the Lokpal.
  • In case of public servants belonging to Group C andGroup D - the Commission shall proceed in accordancewith the provisions of the Central Vigilance CommissionAct, 2003.
  • Lokpal can also inquire against any society or trust or bodythat receives foreign contribution above Rs.10 lakhs.
  • Lokpal Act creates Special Courts to hear and decide thecases arising out of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988or under the Lokpal Act involving public servants.
  • The Special Courts shall ensure completion of each trialwithin a period of one year from the date of filing of thecase in the Court.

Probe against Prime Minister:

  • The Lokpal cannot inquire into any corruption charge againstthe Prime Minister if the allegations are related tointernational relations, external and internal security, publicorder, atomic energy and space unless a full Bench of theLokpal, consisting of all members, considers the initiation of aprobe necessary and is approved by at least two-thirds of themembers of Lokpal. 
  • Such a hearing should be held privatelyand if the complaint is dismissed, the records shall not bepublished or made available to anyone.

Challenges in implementation:

  • For more than five years, the chairperson and members ofthe Lokpal were not appointed as thegovernment claimedlack of Leader of Opposition in the Parliament.
  • Supreme Court Judgment in April, 2018 instructed thegovernment to appoint Lokpal and its members and saidthat even without recognised Leader of Opposition, Lokpaland its members can be appointed.
  • Accordingly, after much deliberation, governmentappointed Mr. Pinaki Chandra Ghosh as India’s firstLokpal in March 2019. Thus, it took almost five years toappoint Lokpal at the centre to handle cases of corruptionagainst public officials.
  • No member from Opposition in Selection Committee.
  • While appointing Chairperson and Members of Lokpal, thegovernment invited the opposition as “special invitee” andnot as Leader of Opposition or Leader of Single LargestParty.
  • So, the selection committee remained very much politicallybiased towards a single political party due to lack ofrepresentation from the opposition.
  • The unilateral selection may make the Chairperson andMembers of Lokpal go soft on officials who are close to theruling party on cases of corruption.
  • This also puts pressure on other members of Lokpal oncases of corruption involving high officials consideredclose to the ruling majority.

Lack of Rules or Regulations for proper functioning:

  • Even after one year of appointment of Lokayukta andMembers of Lokpal, central government has not framedrules for its regular functioning including providing formfiling complaints.
  • The Central government has also failed to formulate rulesregarding asset disclosure by public servants. Further, noregulations have been made specifying the manner andprocedure of conducting preliminary inquiry andinvestigation. Yet the government claims that tillSeptember 30, 2019, it disposed of 1000 cases out of 1065cases. This claim of the government appears fabricatedand can be challenged in a Court of law.
  • The government has neither constituted Inquiry andCorruption Wing of Lokpal nor appointed its Directors asprescribed in the Lokpal Act.

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Way forward:

  • Mere appointment of Members of Lokpal and Lokayuktaswill not serve the purpose unless these officers areempowered with adequate powers to address the issue ofcorruption in the society.
  • The government must frame rules and regulations tomake the institution function transparently, independentlyand authoritatively without any political or externalinfluence.
  • The institution of Lokpal must be made financially andadministratively independent so that it can perform itsfunctions without being dependent on central authorities.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Premium subsidy sharing pattern (Agriculture), consider the following statements:

1. Premium subsidy sharing pattern between Centre & North Eastern states changed from 50:50 to 90:10. 
2. It will allow more States to notify the scheme and existing States to notify more crops and areas to facilitate greater coverage of farmers under the scheme.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer...................................

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Mains Questions:
Q.1) What are the jurisdiction and the power of Lokpal? What are the challenges to implementation of the Lokpal?


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