THE LOKPAL AND LOKAYUKTAS ACT 2013

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The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was introduced at the Lok Sabha on December 22nd 2011, subsequent to a revision to The Lokpal Bill which was introduced on August 4th 2011.The bill was passed by The Rajya Sabha on the 17th of December, 2013 and The Lok Sabha on the 18th of December the same year. The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013- hereinafter referred to as The Act- is a much awaited piece of legislation aiming at curbing corruption at all levels of the government.

The Act provides for the establishment of a Lokpal and Lokayuktas at The Central and State levels respectively. Lokayuktas are to be established by the states after passing enactments in keeping with the Central Legislation within 365 days of the coming into force of The Act. All public functionaries including The Prime Minister shall come within the purview of Lokpal and it shall also have jurisdiction regarding Grade A, B, C and D level officers, other government employees, all entities receiving foreign donations exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs as per FCRA, and all institutions partly or fully financed by the government. Officers of the army, navy, or coast guard, NGO’s and any religious or charitable organizations are exempted from the purview of the Act.

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The Lokpal is to comprise of one Chairman and not more than 8 members, 50% of which have to be judicial members and 50% constituted by members of SC/ST or OBC communities, minorities and women. The members of Lokpal will be appointed for a five year term by the President on the recommendation of a Selection Committee, to be comprised of the PM, Leader of Opposition, The Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the CJI or any sitting judge of the SC nominated by the CJI and any eminent jurist to be nominated by The President on the recommendation of the other four members. The selection Committee is to be aided by a Search Committee. The qualifications required of members of The Lokpal have been provided in s. 3(3).

An Inquiry wing and Prosecution wing are to be set up, headed by The Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution respectively. The Director of Prosecution is to be appointed on the recommendation of the CVC and shall be under the control of the CBI. The Director of The CBI is to be appointed by a collegiums consisting of The PM, Leader of Opposition and The CJI. The Lokpal shall engage the assistance of any state agency for the purpose of preliminary enquiry and investigation and shall be vested with all the powers of a Civil Court for the purpose of preliminary inquiry. Any inquiry against The PM will have to be sanctioned by a 2/3rd consensus of the members of Lokpal. Strict time limits have been imposed by The Act for investigation and disposal of complaints and the power of sanction for prosecution has been vested with the Lokpal as per s. 23 and special courts may be constituted for the purpose. The provision to set up benches of the Lokpal have been provided in s. 16. The Lokpal has superintendence over any investigating agency regarding any case referred by it. No officer investigating a case referred by Lokpal can be transferred without the permission of Lokpal. S. 37 governs the removal of any member of The Lokpal by the President after an inquiry conducted by the SC as per the procedure prescribed. No complaint against a Lokpal member will be looked into by the Lokpal. Any filing of false and vexatious complaints have been penalized stated in chapter 14 with imprisonment of not more than one year and a fine of up to one lakh Rupees. No complaint filed in good faith or under a mistake of fact as per s. 79 of IPC shall be punishable. All expenses of the Lokpal are to be charged to the Consolidated fund of India.

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This vital legislation provides an effective framework for probing into corruption at all levels. The most significant aspect of Act is its circulation among the masses. It is one of the most widely discussed pieces of legislations among all strata of society and has been a much celebrated step towards the establishment of an anti-corruption machinery. It makes ample provisions for the satisfaction of the principles of natural justice by ensuring a fair hearing to any public servant whose interests may be prejudiced. Though it has been argued that the Act strikes at federalism vide section 63 which allows state governments to exercise their discretion within the framework provided to establish Lokayuktas, any such contention may be invalidated by a perusal of Article 253 of the Constitution. As per the government, the Act has been enacted by the Indian parliament to keep up a sense of balance with the provisions of United Nations Convention against Corruption, which is ratified by India as a signatory in 2011.