Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Six years on, Lokpal is a non-starterop-ed of the day

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Institution of Lokpal is yet prove its efficacy to deal with the corruption. What are the reasons for not starting function as stated in the law.


Context

More than six years after the Lokpal law received the President’s assent, the institution of the Lokpal is yet to play any significant role in tackling corruption in the country.

Delay in appointment

  • Five-year delay in appointment: For more than five years, the chairperson and members of the Lokpal were not appointed.
    • LoP issue: The government claimed that since no one could be recognised as the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) after the 2014 general election, the committee responsible for selecting members of the Lokpal could not be constituted.
    • This malady could have been easily remedied by either recognising the leader of the single largest party in Opposition in the Lok Sabha as the LoP, or by amendment as was done for the selection committee of the CBI Director.
    • However, neither recourse was taken.

Truncated appointment committee

  • Special invitee: The leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha was invited for meetings of the selection committee as a ‘special invitee’.
    • Which he declined on grounds that it was mere tokenism.

Non-starter

  • More than 10 months later, however, evidence suggests that the Lokpal is a non-starter.
  • No rules prescribing the form: Till date, the government has not made rules prescribing the form for filing complaints to the Lokpal.
  • No rules regarding asset disclosure: The Central government has also failed to formulate rules regarding asset disclosure by public servants.
  • In order to ensure independent and credible action on allegations of corruption, the Lokpal was empowered under the law to set up its own inquiry wing headed by a Director of Inquiry and its own prosecution wing headed by a Director of Prosecution.
  • The Inquiry and prosecution wing not set up yet: The inquiry and prosecution wings of the anti-corruption ombudsman are yet to be set up.
    • The Lokpal has also not appointed the Director of Inquiry or Prosecution.
    • Regulations for inquiry and investigation not made: Regulations which the Lokpal was obligated to make under the law are yet to be made, including those specifying the manner and procedure of conducting preliminary inquiry and investigation.
  • Legal veracity of the decisions uncertain: Since necessary procedures to operationalise the law are yet to be put in place, the legal veracity of the decisions of the Lokpal could potentially be challenged in a court of law.

Conclusion

The failure to operationalise the Lokpal in an effective manner lays bare the lack of will of the government. It took nearly half a century for the Lokpal law to be enacted from the time the need for the oversight institution was first articulated. The government must act to have an effective, independent and empowered Lokpal.

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