Lokpal received 110 corruption complaints, four against MPs, in 2020-21
- The massive public campaign in 2011 demanding an independent anti-corruption ombudsman resulted in the passage of the Lokpal law.
- More than six years after the Lokpal law received the President’s assent, the institution of the Lokpal is yet to play any significant role in tackling corruption in the country.
What is Lokpal?
- Lokpal is a national anti-corruption ombudsman to look into complaints against public servants which are defined under the Lokpal Act 2013. This body is constituted to check the menace of corruption in India.
- The Lokpal has jurisdiction to inquire into allegations of corruption against anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union Government under Groups A, B, C and D. Also covered are 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 Union or State government. It also covers any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above ₹10 lakh
- The office of Lokpal comprises a chairperson and up to eight members. The chairperson of the body can be a current or former judge of the Supreme Court or the chief justice of high courts.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act
- The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed by Parliament in December 2013, received assent from the President on January 1, 2014, and came into force on January 16, 2014.
- The initial delays in the functioning of the ombudsman arose from the fact that the selection process was halted due to the absence of a Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. The Act was subsequently amended in 2016 to make place for the leader of the single largest party in the Lok Sabha as a member in the Lokpal selection committee.
- The Lokpal was set up in 2013 as an anti-corruption authority which had jurisdiction over the Central government to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries. However, no members were appointed for the next five years.
Leader of Opposition
- In Lok Sabha until 1969, there was de facto opposition leader with no formal recognition, status or privilege. Later, the leader of the opposition was given official recognition and their salary and allowances was extended by the Act, 1977. Since then, the leader in the Lok Sabha should satisfy three conditions, namely,
- he should be a member of the House
- of the party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength and
- be recognised by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha
- Lokpal is to present an annual work report to the President
- It is then to be laid in both Houses of Parliament
- No report has been submitted since Lokpal was appointed in 2019
- As many as 110 complaints, including four against Members of Parliament, were received by anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal during 2020-21, registering over 92 per cent decline from the number of plaints received in 2019-20, according to latest official data.
- The Lokpal had received 1,427 corruption complaints in 2019-20
- President Ram Nath Kovind had on March 23, 2019 administered the oath of office to Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the chairperson of Lokpal, the apex body to inquire and investigate into allegations of corruption against public functionaries, including the prime minister.
- The Lokpal’s eight members–four judicial and the rest non-judicial–were administered the oath of office by Justice Ghose on March 27 that year. At present, the Lokpal has vacancy of two judicial members.
- Retired Supreme Court judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose was appointed as the first Lokpal of India by a committee consisting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Loksabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Eminent Jurist Mukul Rohatgi .