Headline : In detail: Lokpal, powers and duties
Composition of Lokpal
- The institution of Lokpal is a statutory body without any constitutional backing.
- Lokpal is a multimember body consisting of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members, of which fifty percent shall be Judicial Members.
- Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
Appointment of the Lokpal
- The selection of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection Committee consisting of:
- Prime Minister
- Speaker of LokSabha
- Leader of Opposition the LokSabha
- Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court Judge nominated by CJI
- An eminent Jurist to be nominated by the President of India on basis of recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee “through consensus”.
Functionaries of Lokpal
- The Lokpal has to appoint following functionaries to conduct preliminary inquiries and pursue prosecution-
- A Secretary, of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India, will be appointed by the Lokpal Chairperson from a panel of names prepared by the Central government.
- An Inquiry Wing, headed by a Director of Inquiry, appointed by the Lokpal.
- A Prosecution Wing, headed by a Director of Prosecutionappointed by the Lokpal.
- Other officers and staff.
Jurisdiction of Lokpal
- Public functionaries including Prime Minister, Ministers and Members of Parliament.
- All categories of public servants including ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ officers and employees of Government.
- Chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre.
- All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year.
Disclosure of Assets
- Public servants will have to declare their assets and liabilities in a prescribed form.
- If they do not disclose any assets in their possession or provide any misleading information, it may be considered to be acquired by corrupt means.
Procedure for initiating with a complaint
- A complaint under the Lokpal Act should be in the prescribed form.
- It must pertain to an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act against a public servant.
- There is no restriction on who can make such a complaint.
Against Prime Minister
- The corruption charges against the Prime Minister can be inquired by the Lokpalif a full Bench of the Lokpal, consisting of its chair and all members, considers the initiation of a probe, and at least two-thirds of the members approve it, if the allegations are related to-
- International relations.
- External and internal security.
- Public order.
- Atomic energy and space.
- Such a hearing should be held in camera, and if the complaint is dismissed, the records shall not be published or made available to anyone.
Against other public officers
- After receiving a complaint, the Lokpal shall call for an explanation from the public servant to determine whether a prima faciecase exists. If there is a prima facie case-
- The Lokpal may order a preliminary inquiry by its Inquiry Wing.
- It may refer it for investigation by any agency, including the CBI.
- The Lokpal, with respect to Central government servants, may refer the complaints to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
- The CVC will send a report to the Lokpal regarding officials falling under Groups A and B; and proceed as per the CVC Act against those in Groups C and D.
Procedure of preliminary inquiry/investigation
- There will be a ‘competent authority’ for each category of public servant-
- For the Prime Minister, it is the LokSabha.
- For other Ministers, it will be the Prime Minister.
- For department officials, it will be the Minister concerned.
- The Inquiry Wing or any other agency will have to complete its preliminary inquiry and submit a report to the Lokpal within 60 days.
- It has to seek comments from both the public servant and “the competent authority,” before submitting its report.
- A Lokpal Bench consisting of at least three members will consider the preliminary inquiry report.
- After giving an opportunity to the public servant, the Lokpal bench will decide whether to proceed with the investigation.
- It can order a full investigation.
- Initiate departmental proceedings.
- Close the proceedings.
- In case of false allegations, it may also proceed against the complainant.
- The preliminary inquiry should normally be completed within 90 days of receipt of the complaint.
Procedure for prosecution
- The agency conducting the probe has to file its investigation report in the court of appropriate jurisdiction, and a copy before the Lokpal.
- A Lokpal bench of at least three members after considering the investigation report-
- May order the prosecution Wing to proceed against the public servant based on the agency’s chargesheet.
- It may also ask the competent authority to take departmental action.
- Direct the closure of the report.
- The Lokpal will have to seek the comments of the ‘competent authority’ as well as the public servant before granting sanction for prosecution.