- The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States.
- These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status. They perform the function of an “ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
- Lokpal is a multi-member body that consists of one chairperson and a maximum of 8 members.
- Chairperson of the Lokpal should be either the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
- Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members and minimum 50% of the Members will be from SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minorities and women.
- The judicial member of the Lokpal shall either be a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
- The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till the age of 70 years.
- The members are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a Selection Committee.
- The five-member Lokpal selection committee includes the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the Chief Justice of India, along with the Leader of Opposition and an eminent jurist selected by other members.
- The Lokpal has jurisdiction to inquire into allegations of corruption against anyone
- who is or has been Prime Minister,
- a Minister in the Union government,
- a Member of Parliament,
- officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D,
- 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 Centre,
- any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above ₹10 lakh.
- It should be noted that the Lokpal cannot inquire into any corruption charge against the Prime Minister if the allegations are related to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space, unless a full Bench of the Lokpal, consisting of its chair and all members, considers the initiation of a probe, and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.
- Such a hearing should be held in camera, and if the complaint is dismissed, the records shall not be published or made available to anyone.
How can a complaint be made and what happens next?
- A complaint under the Lokpal Act should be in the prescribed form and must pertain to an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act against a public servant.
- When a complaint is received, the Lokpal may order a preliminary inquiry by its Inquiry Wing, or refer it for investigation by any agency, including the CBI, if there is a prima facie case.
- The Lokpal, with respect to Central government servants, may refer the complaints to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
- Lokpal has powers of confiscation of assets, proceeds, receipts and benefits arisen or procured by means of corruption in special circumstances.
Why in News?
- More than two years after the Lokpal came into being, the Centre is yet to appoint a director of inquiry for conducting preliminary inquiry into graft complaints sent by the anti-corruption ombudsman, according to an RTI reply.
- The Lokpal, the apex body to inquire and investigate graft complaints against public functionaries, came into being with the appointment of its chairperson and members in March 2019.
- According to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, there shall be a director of inquiry, not below the rank of joint secretary to the government of India, who shall be appointed by the central government for conducting preliminary inquiries referred to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) by the Lokpal.