(November 24): News Analysis(1): Lokpal(in-depth analysis with Mindmap)

lokpal

The SC pulled the centre for delay in appointment of Lokpal under the Lokpal and Lokayukta(Amendment) Act passed in 2016. The centre has been delaying the appointment uplholding the reason of absence of LoP(Leader of Opposition) in the Lok Sabha. Here is all you need to know about Lokpal .

Background:

  • Movement for a Jan Lokpal begun in 2011 through a civil society movement led by Anna Hazare and India Against Corruption.

What exactly was the demand?:

  • To setup an office of ombudsman who would inquire into graft charges on officials ,politicians or any person holding an office under the government.
  • The body is supposed to be an independent body.

What were the provisions of Jan Lokpal?:

  • Establish a central agency for investigation of corruption charges.
  • Time bound investigation–>to be completed within 60 days.
  • Protection of whistle blowers(persons who bring to attention the cases of corruption).
  • Losses to the government by the corrupt officials should be recovered.
  • Completely independent body: supervised by Election Commission of India(ECI) and Cabinet Secretariat.
  • Complaints agaisnt Lokpal to be adjudicated within a month.
  • Members to be appointed from judiciary, IAS officers of clean image, private citizens(eminent) and constitutional authorities through transparent and participatory process.
  • Short listed candidates–>invited–> video recording of the proceedings.
  • Financial penalties for the delays in the government-office work –>to be given as compensation to the citizens.
  • CVC and CBI to be merged with Lokpal.

Were the demands accepted?

The govenrnment passed a Lokpal and Lokayukta act in 2011. This has been followed by two consequent amendments in 2013 and 2016.

However, there have been differences in some of the major provisions of the Lokpal bill.

 

Below are some facts related to Lokpal(click the mindmap to open in new tab a zoomed image of the same)

lokpal-and-lokayukta-act

Lokpal and Lokayukta act

 

Lokpal and Lokayukta act : More info, issues and challenges

  • Some more points of importance related to Lokpal:
    • No inquiry on PM if related to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
    • Section 44: provides for declaration of assets by the public servants, his/her spouse and dependent children within 30 days from the date he subscribes to oath to enter his office.
    • For inquiry against PM:
      • Two conditions need to be satisfied:
        • All members of Lokpal should consider the initiation of inquiry.
        • 2/3rd members of Lokpal approves of such inquiry.
    • Will function as an appellate authority.
    • Will prepare its own budget and pass it to the central government.
    • Accounts to be audited by CAG.
    • Annual report–>to President–>passed by the parliament.
    • Public officials–>immunity–>for anything done in good faith.
    • Chairmen and members : public servants.
    • Conditions of independence : same as that of Supreme Court.
    • Complaints to be recognised: not older than 7 years.
    • Civil courts–>barred from any jurisdiction of cases with Lokpal.
    • Has an Inquiry wing.
    • Lokayukta–>setup similar to Lokpal @ the state level.

How actually will it work?

  • Recieve a complaint.
  • Will decide whether to act or not.
  • If the decision is positive –>move ahead with Preliminary Enquiry(PE)-->to be conducted by Inquiry wing or CBI.
  • PE: to be done within 90 days in general cases while it may be extended up to 180 days in special cases.
  • Group A to D: Lokpal to refer to CVC.
  • If Group A/B: CVC–>prepare report and submit to Lokpal.
  • If Group C/D: CVC itself takes cognizance.

Issues (with the 2013 act which remain even after amendment of 2016):

An overall issue is that the government is not willing to expedite the implementation of the Lokpal act.

Some other act related issues are:

  • No protection to whistleblowers has been provided. This may lead to ineffectiveness due to fear among people.(mentioned in Jan Lokpal)
  • Giving immunity to public servants who acted in good faith can be an evasion path for them.
  • Judiciary is out of the ambit of Lokpal while there have been cases of integrity lapse in judiciary as well.
  • Provisions related to citizen’s charter are missing. A citizen’s charter is a code which defines the rights of the citizens and thus, helps in making the govenance accountable. (some provisions of Jan Lokpal take this into consideration)
  • No complete merger of CBI into Lokpal which could have led to its separation from government. (mentioned in Jan Lokpal).
  • There is no perfect procedure for removal of Lokpal in case of charges of graft/corruption. It is mentioned in the bill that, Lokpal cannot inquire against such charges, and President could remove him on grounds of misbehaviour.
  • Lesser attention paid on provisions of Lokayukta.

Issue added after 2016 amendment act:

  • The amendment in 2016 of Section 44 did away with the requirement of the spouse and children to declare their assets.
  • Also, it amended subsections of Section 59 which now empowers the central government  to make rules with retrospective effect regarding form and manner of declaration of assets.
  • Also, public disclosure of these assets is done away with.
  • These provisions fundamentally dilute the law.

Challenges:

  • Transparency in working of Lokpal .
  • Ensuring safety of whistleblowers.
  • Not to become a bureaucratic structure.

Solutions:

  • Inducing the provisions of grievance redressal mechanism through citizen’s charter.
  • Providing adequate protection to whistleblowers through  separate act to be integrated with Lokpal.
  • RTI on Lokpal for transparency.
  • Appointment procedure to be transparent.
  • CBI should not be used as a tool in the hands of Lokpal as it is now in the hands of government. It should retain its independence and work in association with Lokpal.
  • Adequate safeguards should be provided to public servants but they should not reach extreme.
  • Clarity in language of a few provisions of the bill, like, “good faith”.

 

 

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