Friday, 4 February 2022

Lokpal and Ombudsman in India - By Isha

 Lokpal and Ombudsman in India – By Isha


Introduction

Gone are the days when law and legal news was involved only as a small section of our daily lives. With what’s happening in our country and world as a whole, it’s not an option to be unaware of laws.

More so, with Monumental judgements of the Supreme Court – Privacy Judgement, Adultery Judgements, Decriminalization of Homosexuality, etc, - Law and legal news are everyday making new headlines.

But like any other year, even this year there were some negative news that grabbed our attention- Various scams, Auditing and Accounting errors, etc.

 In 2018 Corruption Perception Index which is an international watchdog for corruption ranked India at 81st position also Transparency International ranked India at 1st position in case of bribery while studying 16 Asian Pacific countries. 

While studying about the level of corruption, international agencies stated that there are three main problems because of which the level of corruption is very high, these are as follows:

  • Poorly functioning public institutions

  • Ignorance/ Non implementation of Anti Graft laws ( opposed or designed to reduce corruption)

  • Level of bribery and extortion is very high

In lieu of this there are some Anti Graft laws in our country: 

  • Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 (FEBL) – This bill is mainly to punish those offenders who have absconded the country after various scams.

  •  National Financial Regulating Authority (NFRA) – This body was established due to accounting and auditing scams in the country and to supervise the auditors.

  • Whistle Blower Protection Act (2014) – The rights of this act has not been implemented till now.

  • Prevention of Corruption ( Amendment) Act 2018 – Amendments were made to this Act in July 2018 because of which anti grafts provision under this act have been made more strong.

  • Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 – It came into force on 1st January 2014


Ombudsman

It is a Sweden concept and a system wherein citizens problems and grievances is solved by an independent authority. Lokpal is an Indian synonym for Ombudsman which was coined by Laxmi Mall Singhvi. The Lokpal is an authority which is independent of the legislature, executive, and judiciary and it can take suo moto cognizance of matters relating to citizens problems and can start the investigation.


History

  • To address the grievances and problems of citizenship the first Administrative Reform Commission was established in 1966 headed by Moraji Desai. This commission submitted its report stating that to redress the issues of citizens, two special authorities needs to be set up:

  • Lokpal ( for the union)

  • Lokyukta ( for the states)

  • Lokpal bil was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1968 but after the protests of various civil societies we finally had the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013.


Provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013

  1. Establishment and Composition

  • The establishment of the Lokpal is given in Section 3 of the act which states that:

    •  Lokpal should consist of a chairperson which can ex/current Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court or an eminent person.

    • Apart from the chairperson, it can have maximum of 8 members of which 4 are judicial members who are either judge of Supreme court or chief justice of any high court and 4 non judicial members who have impeccable integrity, special knowledge in their field and have expertise of 25 years.

    • The act also stresses on the inclusion SC’s, ST’s, OBC, women and minorities.

  1. Selection Committee

  • The provisions for selection Committee are are given in Section 4.

  • The selection Committee consists of five people

  • Prime minister

  • Speaker

  • Leader of opposition

  • Chief justice of India (or another judge nominated by him)

  • Eminent jurist

  • This committee create a panel of 7 people which is known as the search committee.

  • The main work of the search committee is to create a list of persons who can be a member of the Lokpal committee.


Tenure of the chairperson and other members of the Lokpal committee (Section 6)


  • The term will be of five years or until the age of 70 years.

  • The chairperson or any other member can be anyone except:

  • MP

  • MLA

  • Hold office of profit.


Jurisdiction ( Section 14)

 Jurisdiction of Lokpal to include

  • Prime Minister

  • Ministers

  • Members of Parliament

  • Group A, B, C and D officers

  • Officials of Central Government








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