[op-ed snap]The principle and procedure in Lokpal

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Problems with procedure in appointment of Lokpal


CONTEXT

The Supreme Court’s ultimatum to the Centre to appointment a Lokpal within a given time frame, and the subsequent appointment of the first Lokpal in the country, is to be welcomed.

History Of Lokpal movement

  • The Supreme Court’s ultimatum to the Centre to appointment a Lokpal within a given time frame, and the subsequent appointment of the first Lokpal in the country is to be welcomed.

1.Preference to Vigilance Commission

  • Despite affirmations to its need, no one really wanted a Lokpal in India, preferring instead the mild Vigilance Commission from 1964 to 2003.

2.Ineffectiveness of other Commissions

  • In one sense, the National Human Rights Commission and the various national commissions dealing with Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, children and even safai karmacharis are all special Lokpals within their areas.
  • But nobody fears them because they are promotional and deal with individual grievances.
  • They hurt no one and have become semi-ineffective.
  • No one wanted a strong Lokpal because it would demand accountability from politicians and bureaucrats.

3.Maladministration Model

  • After the Emergency, a new model of Lokpal emerged, a model for ‘regime revenge’.
  • The ‘maladministration’ model gave way to an anti-corruption model with a sweep clause of five years.
  • It meant that it would target politicians, but not bureaucrats.

4.Anna Hazare Movement

  • The 2011 Anna Hazare movement, which fought to get the Lokpal Bill passed, faltered in many ways.
  • The new government did not want Lokpal accusations and investigations to mar its tenure.

5. Supreme Court’s involvement

  • Directed by the Supreme Court, the Lokpal appointment process began in 2018.
  • The government constituted a eight-member Search Committee in September 2018, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, to recommend names for the posts of Lokpal chairperson and members.

Problems with appointments

1.Neither transparent or fair

  • When the matter was argued in the Supreme Court, advocate Prashant Bhushan asked for the names of those who had applied for the post.
  • This suggestion was shot down during the argument.
  • Did former Supreme Court judge, Justice Pinaki Ghose, apply even though he was a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at the time?

2. Section 4(3)

  • Section 4(3) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013 states that the Selection Committee “may also consider any person other than the persons recommended by the Search Committee”.
  • This makes the procedure futile.
  • The Selection Committee was to lay down the criteria for appointment and decide by the majority in cases of difference of opinion.
  • The public is entitled to know the list proposed by the Search Committee.

3.Background of members

  • Justice Pinaki Ghose is not known for any path-breaking judgments, so it is curious why he was chosen over other retired judges, especially as he was already a member of the NHRC.
  • No less than a sitting judge could have been offered this post.
  • The question is, should IAS and IPS officers be appointed, especially since they have to deal with fellow officers?
  • The field was wide open from non-government sectors as well.

Conclusion

  • Mr. Hazare was right in being overjoyed that a Lokpal has been appointed at last.
  • Aruna Roy and others were right in insisting on a wider jurisdiction on maladministration and delivery of services.
  • This Lokpal will always be known as a secretly appointed one.
  • It is supposed to be an anti-corruption institution. Much will depend on how it is used and against whom.

 

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc
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