Overview: The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act
Nov. 09, 2023 • Mohammed Fardeen Yusuf
The grievance of citizens has grown due to improper acts of corrupt officials and because of this, the act of government gets delayed in the successful initiation of any program. This trend, which is growing in India, is required to be taken into account and thus it critically affects the Central, State and Local Governments. Further, the acts of corruption are restricting the government authorities to implement certain development policies for the boost in economic development in developing nations like India. As stated by the 47th American President, Joe Biden “Corruption is just another type of tyranny.” It means that corruption is only associated with the tyrannical and cruel acts of the government. Hence there was a need for the proper redressal authority known as The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, was passed by the Parliament of India which was specifically made to fight the evils of corruption and provide a space for the well-being of the citizens. The Union government is equipped with Lokpal and the State Government is equipped with Lokayukta.
It started with the introduction of a very strong legislation for anti-corruption measures during the years of 1960s and Dr. L.M. Singhvi first coined the terms Lokpal and Lokayukta in the year 1963. It originated from the Sanskrit word “Lok” which means people and “Pala” which means protector or caretaker. Together it means “protector of people”, so basically it is a forum where the citizens can send a complaint about unfair administrative actions. Thus, the Lokpal bill was first introduced in the parliament. But it was restrained due to internal political conflict, was delayed, and never came into the picture. However, the protest of 2011 by Anna Hazare regarding the need for a strong and stringent anti-corruption law gained momentum. As a consequence, it was demanded by the majority of the population which pressurised the government for the required act, hence the Lokpal bill was drafted by the joint committee with the joint corporation of the members of the government and the civil society further introducing it in the year 2011 in the parliament.
Several amendments and checks were made before the final approval and were successfully passed in December 2013. But as soon as it was passed, the Supreme Court challenged the act, which again required several changes to be made in the bill. It came into actual operation in July 2016 and the act led to the establishment of the Lokpal as a body for conducting a proper investigation in the cases that involved certain practices of corruption and including people like government officials as well, state-level corruption cases are to be handled by the Lokayukta. Although the bill was passed years back it still lacks the versatile implementation and the proper operations have not been taken place to fulfill the objectives of the act. The sole purpose of this act is to provide a proper redressal platform towards the citizens to report corruption-related issues and make the officials liable for involvement in the act but now there is a lack of Investigating officer (Ombudsman) at both the levels of operation. This act was significantly passed in the year 2013 but came into force on January 16th,2014. But still, the enactment of this statute is itself an achievement in to fight against corruption in the country. The proper sustainability only depends upon the transparency between the citizens and the government.
The objectives of the act
- The establishment of a proper mechanism for the prosecution of the cases eradicating the misuse of powers by the officials and further speeding up the trial process in compliance with the proper procedures.
- The validity of the bill was reviewed twice before its enactment and it led to further amendments that were required to be made and the amendments were constituted.
- The case of Delhi Administration which was further challenged in defining the validity of the bill with reference to the arguments made by the centre as only to focus on the emergency offences but was under the preview constitution as a permanent statute.
- The SC upheld the allegations and stated that the act was to provide speedy redressal towards the corrupted public officials and regarded them as offenders for the maintenance of democracy.
- In the case of the Institution of A.P. Lokayukta the Hon’ble Apex Court explained the purpose behind the Lokayukta Acts. The Court noted that “the Acts were designed to hold public servants accountable for their actions and that the Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta, who are high-ranking judges, are intended to act as effective ombudsmen to maintain public confidence in public bodies”.
Powers and Functions of the Lokpal
- It certainly has very wide jurisdiction over the officials of the government including the Prime Minister, Members of Parliament, the various Public servants and all various government officials
- All those things acquired by the means of corruption can be seized by the Lokpal.
- If any corrupt official is found guilty of corruption charges, then the Lokpal can make recommendations for the suspension or the transfer of that official.
- Lokpal can stop the procedure for the destruction of the documents related to the aspect of corruption during the investigation.
- The CBI also receives direction of procedure from the Lokpal hence making it a stronger and efficient authority in eradicating acts of corruption.
- Powers delegated concerning the civil courts concerning the inquiry wing of Lokpal.
- The only prosecution and the further imposition of sanctions by the Lokpal can be done by the Lokpal only under the proper competent authority.
There are various functions to be performed by the Lokpal that ensures the proper procedure to be followed and efficient work to be done. All the actions can be taken by the Lokpal against the public officials if they do not work or work against the law prescribed. The actions initiated by the Lokpal can be on the complaint of an individual or can take action on its own (Suo Moto) if it feels that the authority is connected with corruption, and can even summon the accused for the matter and can establish an investigating authority for proper investigation to be done.
The authority of Lokpal can also function as a primary authority for the grievance redressal at first instance, acting as an Appellate authority. Lokpal is also responsible for ensuring the protection of those who reveal or take a stand against corruption and safeguarding the officials who have taken actions in good faith. The promotion of awareness of corruption will also play a vital factor in fighting corruption. These powers are designed to ensure that public officials are held accountable for their actions and that the government operates transparently and in the best interests of the people.
Powers And Functions of Lokayukta
- There are various states which include it’s the CM in its jurisdiction in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat further exemption is made from the states of Orissa, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
- The Lokayukta also exercise wide powers towards the Ministers and various high-level public officials in the majority of the states
- Raids can be performed by the Lokayukta if required to bust up the corrupted officials at the state level.
- The demand can be made by Lokayukta about the documentation of the related matter.
- Field visits can also be performed towards the organization that is undergoing the trial of corruption charges.
- Proper investigation can also be made concerning the public official at the state level.
- The sole authority to impose punishments in the form of suspensions, transfers or fines towards the corrupted official which is fully dependent upon the state to either approve or make significant changes in the recommendations.
The proper speedy redressal is required to be performed by the Lokayukta to investigate the corrupted officials for the improper usage of power and acting against the law. The whole functioning of the authority report will thus be presented to the Governor of the state making it primarily responsible to the state legislature. An absolute check and balance is to be kept upon the investigating authorities about the activities performed in corruption charges thus making the authority to take proper actions against the corrupted officials with the help of the special assigned investigating officer of the authority.
Term and Appointment of Lokpal
- The Selection Commission of Lokpal is responsible for the selecting 8 members of the committee also including 5 members.
- The President of India appoints the chairperson and the members of the Lokpal only on the recommendations of the Selection Commission.
- The members of the Selection Commission include:
(1) The Prime Minister of India,
(2) The Speaker of Lok Sabha,
(3) The Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha,
(4) The Chief Justice of India or any Judge nominated by the Chief Justice of India,
(5) One eminent jurist.
- The Prime Minister is the chairperson or the head of the Selection Committee of the country.
- The tenure for the chairperson and the members of the committee is for 5 years or till the age of 70 years.
The corrupt acts are mostly performed by the officials who own the political influence and would like to be mostly hold the seats and it can only be overcome by the implementation of the act which is still regarded as one of the biggest challenges. Even the appointment of the authority of Lokayukta is still delayed by most of the states and only the Lokpal cannot fight corruption if both bodies do not work simultaneously. The lack of proper function is a major factor as most of these bodies remain vacant due to the lack of resources and the selection process is also sometimes in the hands of the corrupted public official. It even cannot initiate cases on its own, especially the Lokpal as most of the cases are Passover by the government.
The required change
This act establishes the institution that will provide a proper check-up and fulfill the procedure which can only be achieved upon its establishment in every state for the successful enactment of the law. Furthermore, the need for the supervising committee consisting of jurists and well-qualified corruption specialists who choose unbiased representation for both these authorities should be free from the interference of the judicial bodies regarding the subject matter.
The strength of the legal and constitutional structure is only possible by the Lokpal and Lokayukta for combating corruption. Corruption is the virus that has been eating the true aspect of democracy so there should be no tolerance towards corruption. The proper implementation of this statute will once and forever eradicate the evils of corruption from the nation.
In conclusion, if we humans are clean, all the laws will seem useless. But the corruption in politics eats up the actual functioning of the democracy and the current working establishments are not enough to look overall into the acts of corruption. The Lokpal and Lokayukta of today are the institutions which have very little independence and any future legislation that is made will be pointless unless the issue of executive influence over these organizations is resolved. These authorities differ upon its establishment which varies from state to state which makes it weak for the independent investigation that is required to be made for fulfilling the objectives of the act. Excellent qualified and well-versed officials are required for the brilliant investigation to take place and end the acts of corruption. A need for Greater openness, the required greater access to information, and citizen and citizen group empowerment are essential, most importantly is the well-competent leadership prepared to expose itself to public criticism.
The author affirms that this article is an entirely original work, never before submitted for publication at any journal, blog or other publication avenue. Any unintentional resemblance to previously published material is purely coincidental. This article is intended solely for academic and scholarly discussion. The author takes personal responsibility for any potential infringement of intellectual property rights belonging to any individuals, organizations, governments, or institutions.