India’s Lokpal Bill, 2011


The official version of the Lokpal bill defining the role and powers of a Lokpal – an independent institution to check corruption by higher placed officials within government – has been tabled in the Parliament.

A need voiced out by the people to constitute a mechanism to dealing with complaints of corruption against public functionaries in high positions led the central government to constitute a Joint Draft Committee (JDC) on 8th april 2011, to draft the an anti-graft Act.

This Act is called the Lokpal Act,2011 and extends to the whole of India. It also applies to servants outside the country. The Act provides for the establishment of the institution of ‘Lokpal’ to inquire into the allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for all other relevant matters..

Lokpal

The Lokpal is to consist of a Chairperson, who is or has been a Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court, and eight members out of whom 50% should be judicial members.

The chairperson and the members will be appointed by the President after obtaining the recommendations of a selection committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of the People, the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People,the Leader of Opposition in the Council of States, a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister,one sitting Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice of India,one eminent Jurist nominated by the central government and one person of eminence in public life who has wide knowledge and experience in anti-corruption policy.

The salary of the chairperson will be the same as that of the chief justice of India and that of the members will be the same as that of judges of the Supreme Court.

The chairperson or any of the members can be removed from his or her office by the order of the President on the grounds of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court, on a reference being made to it by the President, on a petition being made by at least 100 members of the parliament or by the president on the receipt of a petition made by a citizen of India where the president is satisfied that the petition should be referred.

Powers & Functions

As per the bill, the Lokpal shall constitute an Investigation Wing for the purpose of conducting investigation of any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988. The institution may, by notification, constitute a prosecution wing and appoint a Director of Prosecution and such other officers to assist the Director of Prosecution in the prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this act.

The expenses of the Lokpal, including all salaries, allowances and pensions payable to or in respect of the Chairperson, Members or secretary or other officers or staff of the lokpal, has to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and any fees taken by the Lokpal is to form a part of that fund.

Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Lokpal will inquire into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint in respect of the Prime Minister after he has resigned from office, any other person who is or has been a member of the Union, any person who is or as been a member of either house of Parliament and any group ‘A’ officer in the public services.

A complaint under this Act should only relate to a period during which the public servant is holding or serving in that capacity.

The bill clearly states the procedure of inquiry and investigation. The Lokpal on receipt of a complaint, will either make a preliminary inquiry or direct its Investigation Wing to ascertain whether the matter can be proceeded with or not. Every preliminary investigation is supposed to ordinarily be completed within a period of 30 days and if needed in particular cases, within a further extended deadline of 3 months from the date of receipt of the complaint.

After this the investigating authority shall submit its report to the Lokpal and the Lokpal has to give the public servant a chance of being heard.

The hearing of the case will be made public.

For the purpose of any inquiry, the Lokpal will enjoy all powers of the Civil Court, under the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908 while trying a suit in respect of any of the matters related to summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath, requiring the discovery and the production of any document, receiving evidence of affidavit, requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office and issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents.

Special Lokpal courts

The central government shall constitute a number of special courts as recommended by the Lokpal, to hear and decide the cases arising out of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 or under this Act. These special courts are supposed to ensure completion of each trial within an year of the filing of the case.

The Lokpal is not meant to inquire into any complaint made against the Chairperson or any member and any complaint against the Chairperson or a member shall be made by an application by the party aggrieved, to the president. If on trial a public servant is seen to have been involved in some corrupt practice, then he or she will be liable of making up for the loss to the exchequer if any.

Whoever makes a false or frivolous complaint under this Act shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for at least two. The term of imprisonment can extend to 5 years and with a fine not less than 25 thousand which can be raised to 2 lakhs.

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