The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013: An Overview

BACKGROUND
THE LOKPAL AND LOKAYUKTAS ACT, 2013 (hereinafter the Act)[1] came into force on January 16, 2014, with a view to provide for the establishment of a body of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. However, the tumultuous and politically active process leading to its enactment started way back in 1963 when the idea of an ombudsman first came up in Parliament during a discussion on budget allocation for the Law Ministry. Later, in the period between 1968 and 2011, the Lokpal Bill was introduced in Parliament eight times but was not passed. A revised and renamed Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was then brought in 2011, which was passed by the Lok Sabha. However, this Bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha due to objections by some of the opposition parties to various provisions of the Bill. In order to amicably reach a consensus on the contentious issues, the Bill was referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha in May 2012. The Select Committee submitted its report[2] in November 2012, after which the Bill was finally passed by the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha and thereafter received the President’s assent.

OVERVIEW OF THE ACT
The Act aims to prevent and control corruption through the setting up of an independent and empowered body at the central level, called the Lokpal that would receive complaints relating to corruption against most categories of public servants[3] and ensure that these are properly investigated and effectively prosecuted. On receipt of a complaint, in case there is a prima facie case for proceeding in the matter, the Lokpal shall order investigation to be conducted by any agency, including the Delhi Special Police Establishment.[4] In all other cases, the Act empowers the Lokpal to order a preliminary enquiry by its Inquiry Wing or any agency including the Delhi Special Police Establishment.[5] The Lokpal, however, only has a power of ‘superintendence over and to give direction’ to the Delhi Special Police Establishment.[6] The Act makes it incumbent for each State to pass, within a year, a law setting up a body of Lokayuktas at the state level but leaves it to the States to work out the details.[7] The Act further provides for the selection of the Lokpal Chairperson and its eight members by a Selection Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the CJI, and one eminent jurist, as recommended by the other four members of the Committee.[8] The Act envisages formation of a Search Committee which shall prepare a panel of eligible candidates for the post of Chairperson and members of the Lokpal for consideration of the Selection Committee.[9] However the suggestions of the Search Committee are not binding on the Selection Committee.[10]


[1]Passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Dec. 17, 2013 and December. 18, 2013 respectively and received assent of the President on January 1, 2014.
[2]The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, Select Committee Report, available at: http://rajyasabha.nic.in/rsnew/lokpal_bill.pdf (Visited on March 7, 2014).
[3] Sec. 14.                                                                                                                                         
[4] Sec. 20(1).
[5] Ibid.
[6] Sec. 25.
[7] Sec. 63.
[8] Sec. 4.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
 courtesy: ILI New Delhi

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