July , 2019
Great Expectations from the New Lokpal
16:22 pm

Dr. P K Agrawal

Lokpal or Ombudsman came into existence under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013,  to handle cases of corruption involving central government officers and employees. Lokayuktas are to deal with cases related to states and union territories.  The Act aims to implement the ‘U.N. Convention Against Corruption’ and ensure a clean and responsive governance system.

The Lokpal is a multi-member body, which has already been constituted. Its jurisdiction extends from the peon to the secretary of any department of the central government. Even the NGOs, societies or associations or trusts wholly or partly financed or aided by government or receiving donations from the public are included within the fold of this Act. Lokpal has the powers of police for investigation and is allowed to search and seize objects. To make the institutions of Lokayuktas and Lokpal effective, special courts are to be set up simultaneously so as to complete trial of cases within the prescribed period of one year. One good feature of the Act is that the special court can assess the loss caused by the action or decision of the public servant in a conspiracy with the beneficiary of the corruption deal. Such loss can be recovered from both proportionately.

Powers of the Lokpal

The Lokpal has the power of superintendence over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with respect to cases referred by it to CBI. The Act specifies that CBI officers investigating cases referred by the Lokpal can only be transferred with the approval of the Lokpal. To make the institution of Lokpal and Lokayuktas functional without delay, there is a provision that the central government shall make available such number of officers and other staff from its ministries or departments, as may be required by the Lokpal, for conducting preliminary inquiries and for conducting prosecution under the Act. But the Lokpal has not yet notified the forms of complaints whereas the Indian masses are eagerly waiting to flood it with complaints to steam out decades old grievances.


The Lokpal on receipt of a complaint, if it decides to proceeds may order a preliminary inquiry to ascertain whether a prima facie case exists or not. It may then order investigation by any agency including the CBI. It may also refer the case to the Central Vigilance Commission for preliminary inquiry. However, before ordering an investigation, the Lokpal shall call for the explanation from the public servant but it can also order for search and seizure. However, comments of the concerned competent authority or department may be obtained within sixty days so as to complete the preliminary inquiry within 60days which has be completed within that time - with or without the comments of the department concerned. Before ordering further investigation, at least three members of the Lokpal will give an opportunity of being heard to the public servant. Investigation has to be completed in all fairness within a period of six months.


There is a fear that the new institution will also be subjected to the procedural vicious circle as other bodies and courts in India. But there is also hope that the new institution will stand against long drawn procedures yield expedient results. It can be expected that the investigation procedure will not be manipulated as the concerned public servant will be defenseless before the Lokpal.

Dr. P. K. Agrawal retired as Additional Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal and is a writer of 65 books. He is at present Managing Partner of Vas Global, a New Delhi-based law firm.


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