From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Appointment of Lokpal
Mains level : How to deal with overlap In jurisdiction among CBI, CVC and Lokpal
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 is complicated. The appointment of India’s first Lokpal has not been received with great excitement.
Anti Corruption Mechanism in India
- There are now three principal actors at the national level in the fight against graft:
- The Lokpal
- The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
Apprehensions regarding the Lokpal
- Some people have misgivings over the independence of the Lokpal.
- They wonder how it will work with the other two so that the objective of cleansing public life is achieved with reasonable satisfaction.
- Some critics allege that the Lokpal’s composition was dictated solely by the establishment led by the Prime Minister
- But what about the Chief Justice of India, or his nominee, another important member of the Selection Committee?
- Casting aspersions on the neutrality of the highest judicial authority in the country is unacceptable unless one can prove with reasonable material that he acted in a biased manner in choosing the first Lokpal.
Jurisdiction Issues among all agencies
- What is worrying is how well the CVC and CBI are going to play a complementary role in upholding the objective for which the Lokpal has been appointed.
- The overlap between CBI and Lokpal
- The Lokpal has jurisdiction over Group A and B public servants.
- This does not deprive the CBI of its own jurisdiction over these two groups.
- The Lokpal Act permits using the CBI (referred to by the Act as the Delhi Special Police Establishment, from which the CBI was born) for examining a complaint against a public servant for misconduct.
- Although the Lokpal has its own Inquiry Wing, it can nevertheless forward a complaint to the CBI for a preliminary inquiry, and thereafter for registering a regular case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- It is not clear what happens when such a complaint is already being inquired into by the CBI.
- Legally speaking, the government, in addition to the Lokpal, is competent to order a preliminary inquiry and permit the CBI to proceed with a regular case.
- It is also to be remembered is that the CBI can register a case even without the government’s nod in instances in which a public servant is caught red-handed while receiving a bribe.
- If an individual lodges a complaint with the government and the Lokpal, what should the Lokpal do? Does it have the authority to give direction to the CBI to keep its hands off the matter and wait for the Lokpal’s own Inquiry Wing to handle the matter?
- The act gives the impression that superintendency over the CBI is shared by the Lokpal and the government, and neither is in exclusive command of the former. Can the Lokpal order the CBI to suspend its inquiry in respect of a complaint and report on it to the exclusion of the government?
- The initial days are going to be difficult in terms of coordination. Everything will depend on how well the Lokpal and the government sink their egos and concentrate on the fundamental objective of striking at corruption without getting bogged down by technicalities.
- All these imponderables, however, do not reduce the utility of a highly placed ombudsman.
- It may finally boil down to Lokpal’s perception of what his role is.
- He can certainly shape the future of this experiment.