Lokpal, The anti-corruption ombudsman is finally set to become operational with the selection of all its members.
The Lokpal & Lokayuktas :-
Since the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013, there has been a delay of five years to appoint the Lokpal. The Lokpal is the anti-corruption ombudsman who takes up allegations of corruption among the Central government functionaries. The same will be done by the Lokayuktas appointed in the States.
Selecting Members :-
- As per the act, the Lokpal is selected by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Loksabha Speaker.
- Before that, a search panel will prepare a list of candidates for the selection committee.
- The Lokpal consists of 8 members with 4 from the judicial fraternity and 4 are non-judicial.
- The Judicial members could be a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court judge.
- The non-judicial members should be people of impeccable integrity having special knowledge in matters of public administration, anti-corruption policy, law & management, finance and banking, and vigilance for not less than 25 years.
- The Act states that 50% of the members of the Lokpal should be from among the STs, SCs and OBCs, women and minorities.
- The same applies to the search committee too.
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The Appointed Members :-
The appointed members are: Lokpal – Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Justice Dilip Balasaheb Bhosale, Justice Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Justice Abhilasha Kumari, Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi, Dinesh Kumar Jain, Archana Ramasundaram, Mahender Singh, IP Gautam.
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Lokpal Powers :-
- The Lokpal has the jurisdiction over Central Ministers, Central Government employees, and Members of Parliament.
- It also has the jurisdiction to inquire Prime Minister in matters of corruption relating to atomic energy, public order, space and international relations. For this to happen, at least two-third members of the Lokpal must approve for an inquiry.
- Inquires are held in-camera.
- It has superintendence powers over CBI.
- When a case referred to the CBI by the Lokpal, the officer of the case cannot be transferred without the permission of the Lokpal.
- Lokpal can authorise the CBI search and seize.
- It has the power to confiscate assets, proceeds, benefits arisen out of the acts of corruption.
- It has the power to transfer or suspend a public servant connected to the allegations of corruption.
- It can pass directions to prevent the destruction of records during the preliminary inquiry.
It took five years to select the members of the Lokpal since the enactment of the Act shows the hesitancy of the government in constituting the ombudsman.
The time for Lokpal has eventually come. It will be successful only if it works impartially and time will tell if the desired transparency in the work of public servants has been achieved or not.