TISS GK Preparation Series: GK is a very important section for TISS especially since the verbal and the quant sections are relatively easy. Hence, getting a good score in GK can easily be the difference between getting a TISS call and not getting one. All the socio-poltical issues are very important wrt to its GA section. LOKPAL is definitely one such issue.
Why in news?
PM-led selection panel recently cleared the former Supreme Court Judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose as first Lokpal of India. Background
- The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 was enacted after the Indian anti-corruption movement of 2011 with series of protests for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
- However, the appointment of the Lokpal was delayed because of absence of leader of opposition, who is a member of selection panel to recommend Lokpal. After this the Supreme Court intervened and set deadlines for appointing the Lokpal at the earliest.
Salient features of The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013
- Institutional mechanism: Establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.
- Composition: Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% shall be judicial members and 50% shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
- Appointment process: It is a two-stage process. o A search committee which recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee. o The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist (nominated by President based on the recommendation of other members of the panel). o President will appoint the recommended names.
- Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of Lokpal extends to o Anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D. o The 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. o Any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above ₹10 lakh.
- Exception for Prime Minister o It does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space. o Complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it. o Such an inquiry against the PM (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.
- Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.
- Inquiry wing and prosecution wing: Inquiry Wing for conducting preliminary inquiry and Prosecution Wing for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.
- Power with respect to CBI: Power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal. Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal would need approval of Lokpal.
- Timelines for enquiry, investigation: Act specifies a time limit of 60 days for completion of inquiry and 6 months for completion of investigation by the CBI. This period of 6 months can be extended by the Lokpal on a written request from CBI.
- Confiscation of property: The act also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
Positive features of the Act
- It has a wide jurisdiction including Prime Minister of the country.
- It empowers citizens to complain to the Lokpal against corruption by public officials, thus Lokpal is a powerful tool for citizens to hold authorities accountable.
- It is applicable to public servants in and outside India.
- This indicates that Act has extraterritorial operation.
- Special courts and clear timelines at each stage can ensure that investigation is completed in time bound manner
- Less Expensive: They are set up to be less formal, less expensive, and a faster way to resolve disputes than by using the traditional court system.
- Relief to Courts: The system also gives the much-needed relief to ordinary courts of law, which are already overburdened with numerous suits.
- Lokpal can issue directions to agencies in India like CBI, CVC while investigating, and prosecuting cases under the direction of Lokpal. This ensures independent functioning free from government interference.