Former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was appointed as the country’s first Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman.
The appointment has come through five years after the Lokpal Act was notified for effecting a panel of ombudsmen to look into cases of corruption and maladministration by public servants.
? The idea of an ombudsman first came up in parliament during a discussion during 1963
? First ARC recommended the setting up of two independent authorities- at the central and state level, to look into complaints against public functionaries.
? The Lokpal Bill was introduced in parliament but was not passed. Eight attempts were made till 2011 to pass the Bill, but in vain.
? Second ARC also recommended that Lokpal should be appointed to look into corruption issues.
? Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013, was passed in both Houses of Parliament.
? The Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI
? Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person
? Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
? An investigation must be completed within six months. However, the Lokpal may allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.
Appointment and issues
? A five-member panel comprising the PM, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition,
CJI and an eminent jurist nominated by the President
? The current Lok Sabha does not have a Leader of Opposition to sit on the selection panel.
? This led to an amendment to the existing Lokpal Act to change Leader of Opposition to Leader
of the largest Opposition party
? Parliament is yet to approve the changes made by the amendment to the existing Lokpal Act
? The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.
? The Lokpal will cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister.
? But the armed forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal.
? It made mandatory for public servants to declare their assets and liabilities along with that of their spouse and dependent children.
? The Act also led to passing a seperate whistle blowers act.