Four years after the appointment of the country’s first Lokpal and the Lokpal Committee, this anti-corruption body has not prosecuted even a single person accused of corruption. This was revealed in the report of a parliamentary committee, in which it termed the performance of the Lokpal as “not found to be satisfactory”.
This report tabled in Parliament recently states that many complaints are being disposed of by the Lokpal on the grounds that they are not in the prescribed format. The committee also asked the Ombudsman not to dismiss genuine complaints.
The Committee raised the question of non-filling of the post of Chairperson of Lokpal lying vacant since May last year and sought response from the Government on the action being taken to fill the vacancies.
It may be known that in March 2019, the then President Ram Nath Kovind had administered the oath to Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the country’s first Lokpal. The Lokpal Committee was also constituted in the same month.
The Lokpal is headed by a Chairperson and may consist of eight members (four judicial and the rest non-judicial). The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013.
The report of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice said, “The Committee conclude from the data provided by the Lokpal that a large number of complaints are being disposed of on the ground that they Not in prescribed format.
The Lokpal has told the Committee that it has not prosecuted even a single person accused of corruption till date.” The Committee stated that it is of the considered view that the constitution of the Lokpal would strengthen the legal and institutional mechanism to deal with corruption in public life. was done to.
“However, the performance of the Lokpal does not appear to be satisfactory,” the report said. The committee believes that the Lokpal was established in an effort to promote clean and accountable governance and, therefore, It should act as a facilitator rather than a deterrent.
The Committee recommended that the Ombudsman should not dismiss genuine complaints merely on the technical ground that the complaint is not in the prescribed format.
The report states, “At a time when India is leading the G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, the Lokpal should rise to the occasion and do everything possible to strengthen the anti-corruption landscape in the country.” ”
A total of 2,518 complaints (which were not in the prescribed format) were received by the Lokpal during the year 2022-23. 242 complaints received during this period were in the prescribed format. Of these, 191 were disposed of.
The committee also highlighted the vacancies in Lokpal and sought details of steps taken to fill them.
The Committee noted that Section 5 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 states that the President shall take all necessary steps to appoint a new Chairperson and Members at least three months before the expiry of the term of the Chairperson or Members.
“The Committee noted that Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose had relinquished the office of Chairperson of the Lokpal in May 2022 on attaining the age of 70 years and since then Justice Pradeep Kumar Mohanty has been acting as the Chairperson of the Lokpal,” the report said. are doing.”
The committee noted that the vacancies of two judicial members have also not been filled since 2020. The report tabled in Parliament last week said, “The Committee desires to be apprised of the steps taken by the Government to fill up the vacant posts of Chairperson and Judicial Members of the Lokpal. The committee hopes that the investigation and prosecution wing will be set up soon.
As per the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, the Lokpal shall, by a notification, constitute a Prosecution Wing headed by the Director of Prosecution to prosecute delinquent public servants.
As per the law, an Investigation Wing headed by the Director of Investigation shall also be constituted for the purpose of conducting a preliminary inquiry into any alleged offense committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The report of the committee states that the sanctioned strength of Lokpal is 82, out of which 32 are in office. In addition, 62 employees have been employed on contract or outsourcing basis.
“The Lokpal informed the Committee that the work of setting up the Investigation and Prosecution Branches and appointment of Directors of Investigation and Prosecution is underway,” the report said.
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