Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Pandora Papers on Offshore Financial Trusts

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trusts and thier establishments

Mains level : Tax evasion

There are at least 380 persons of Indian nationality in the Pandora Papers.

What are the Pandora Papers?

  • The Pandora papers are the largest trove of leaked data exposing tax haven secrecy in history.
  • They provide a rare window into the hidden world of offshore finance, casting light on the financial secrets of some of the world’s richest people.
  • It includes over 11.9 million leaked files from 14 global corporate services firms which set up about 29,000 off-the-shelf companies and private trusts in not just obscure tax jurisdictions.
  • These documents relate to the ultimate ownership of assets ‘settled’ (or placed) in private offshore trusts and the investments including cash, shareholding, and real estate properties, held by the offshore entities.

Indians included in these

  • There are at least 380 persons of Indian nationality in the Pandora Papers.
  • There are almost 60 prominent individuals and companies including the most decorated cricketer of India.

What do these papers reveal?

  • They reveal how the rich, the famous and the notorious, many of whom were already on the radar of investigative agencies, set up complex multi-layered trust structures for estate planning.
  • This is particularly in jurisdictions that are loosely regulated for tax purposes, but characterized by air-tight secrecy laws.
  • The purposes for which trusts are set up are many, and some genuine too.

But a scrutiny of the papers also shows how the objective of many is two-fold:

  1. Tax Avoidance: to hide their real identities and distance themselves from the offshore entities so that it becomes near impossible for the tax authorities to reach them and,
  2. Tax Evasion: to safeguard investments — cash, shareholdings, real estate, art, aircraft, and yachts — from creditors and law enforcers.

How is Pandora different from the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers?

  • The Panama and Paradise Papers dealt largely with offshore entities set up by individuals and corporates respectively.
  • The Pandora Papers investigation shows how businesses disguised as Trusts have created a new normal with rising concerns of money laundering, terrorism funding, and tax evasion.

What is a Trust?

  • A trust can be described as a fiduciary arrangement where a third party, referred to as the trustee, holds assets on behalf of individuals or organizations that are to benefit from it.
  • It is generally used for estate planning purposes and succession planning.
  • It helps large business families to consolidate their assets — financial investments, shareholding, and real estate property.

A trust comprises three key parties:

  1. Settlor — one who sets up, creates, or authors a trust;
  2. Trustee — one who holds the assets for the benefit of a set of people named by the ‘settlor’; and
  3. Beneficiaries — to whom the benefits of the assets are bequeathed.
  • A trust is not a separate legal entity, but its legal nature comes from the ‘trustee’.
  • At times, the ‘settlor’ appoints a ‘protector’, who has the powers to supervise the trustee, and even remove the trustee and appoint a new one.

Is setting up a trust in India, or one offshore/ outside the country, illegal?

  • The Indian Trusts Act, 1882, gives legal basis to the concept of trusts.
  • While Indian laws do not see trusts as a legal person/ entity, they do recognise the trust as an obligation of the trustee to manage and use the assets settled in the trust for the benefit of ‘beneficiaries’.
  • India also recognises offshore trusts i.e., trusts set up in other tax jurisdictions.

If it’s legal, what’s the investigation about?

  • There are legitimate reasons for setting up trusts — and many set them up for genuine estate planning.
  • A businessperson can set conditions for ‘beneficiaries’ to draw income being distributed by the trustee or inherit assets after her/ his demise.
  • For instance, while allotting shares in the company to say, four siblings, the father promoter set conditions that a sibling can get the dividend from the shares and claim ownership of the shares.
  • This could be to ensure ownership of the enterprise within the family.
  • But trusts are also used by some as secret vehicles to park ill-gotten money, hide incomes to evade taxes, protect wealth from law enforcers.

Why are trusts set up overseas?

Overseas trusts offer remarkable secrecy because of stringent privacy laws in the jurisdiction they operate in.  From the investigation, some key tacit reasons why people set up trusts are:

Maintain a degree of separation: Businesspersons set up private offshore trusts to project a degree of separation from their personal assets.

Hunt for enhanced secrecy: Offshore trusts offer enhanced secrecy to businesspersons, given their complex structures. The Income-Tax Department can get information only with the financial investigation agency or international tax authority.

Avoid tax in the guise of planning: Businesspersons avoid their NRI children being taxed on income from their assets by transferring all the assets to a trust. Further, the tax rates in overseas jurisdictions are much lower than the 30% personal I-T rate in India plus surcharges, including those on the super-rich (those with annual income over Rs 1 crore).

Prepare for estate duty eventuality: There is pervasive fear that estate duty, which was abolished back in 1985 when Rajiv Gandhi was PM, will likely be re-introduced soon. Setting up trusts in advance, business families have been advised, will protect the next generation from paying the death/ inheritance tax, which was as high as 85 per cent.

Flexibility in a capital-controlled economy: India is a capital-controlled economy. Individuals can invest only $250,000 a year under the Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS). To get over this, businesspersons have turned NRIs, and under FEMA, NRIs can remit $1 million a year in addition to their current annual income, outside India.

The NRI angle: Offshore trusts, as noted earlier, are recognised under Indian laws, but legally, it is the trustees — not the ‘settlor’ or the ‘beneficiaries’ — who are the owners of the properties and income of the trust. An NRI trustee or offshore trustee taking instructions from another overseas ‘protector’ ensures they are taxed in India only on their total income from India.

Can offshore Trusts be seen as resident Indian for tax purposes?

  • There are certain grey areas of taxation where the Income-Tax Department is in contestation with offshore trusts.
  • After The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, came into existence, resident Indians — if they are ‘settlors’, ‘trustees’, or ‘beneficiaries’ — have to report their foreign financial interests and assets.
  • NRIs are not required to do so — even though, as mentioned above, the I-T Department has been sending notices to NRIs in certain cases.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Lokpal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

Mains level : Read the attached story

More than two years after the Lokpal came into being, the Centre is yet to appoint a director of inquiry for conducting a preliminary inquiry into graft complaints sent by the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Who is ‘Director of Inquiry’?

  • According to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, there shall be a director of inquiry, not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the GoI.
  • He/ She shall be appointed by the Central government for conducting preliminary inquiries referred to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) by the Lokpal.

About the Lokpal

  • The Lokpal, the apex body to inquire and investigate graft complaints against public functionaries, came into being with the appointment of its chairperson and members in March 2019.
  • In March 2019, former SC judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was selected as the first head of the Lokpal.

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

  • The Lokpal Act 2013 is anti-corruption legislation that seeks to provide for the establishment of the institution of Lokpal.
  • It seeks to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain important public functionaries including the PM, cabinet ministers, MPs, Group A officials of the Central Government etc.
  • The Bill was introduced in the parliament following massive public protests led by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and his associates.
  • The Bill is one of the most widely discussed and debated Bills in India in recent times.

Its history

  • The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 by Laxmi Mall Singhvi, a member of parliament during a parliamentary debate about grievance mechanisms.
  • The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by Morarji Desai submitted an interim report on “Problems of Redressal of Citizen’s Grievances” in 1966.
  • In this report, ARC recommended the creation of two special authorities designated as ‘Lokpal’ and ‘Lokayukta’ for redress of citizens’ grievances.
  • Maharashtra was the first state to introduce Lokayukta through The Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act in 1971.

Also read:

Explained: How Lokpal will form, function

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Donation reports of only 3.39% registered unrecognized parties available in public domain

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Political Parties and their types

Mains level : Political Parties in India

The contribution reports of only 78 (3.39%) of the total 2,301 registered unrecognized political parties are available in the public domain for 2018-19 reports the Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Classification of Political Parties in India

(A) National parties

A registered party is recognised as a national party only if it fulfils any one of the three conditions listed below:

  • A party should win 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha from at least three different states.
  • At a general election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party polls 6% of votes in any four or more states and in addition, it wins four Lok Sabha seats.
  • A party gets recognition as a state party in four states.
  • A party recognised as a National party can be derecognized if it fails to maintain the criteria.

(B) State parties

A party has to fulfil any of the following conditions for recognition as a state party:

  • A party should secure at least 6% of valid votes polled in an election to the state legislative assembly and win at least 2 seats in that state assembly.
  • A party should secure at least 6% of valid votes polled in an election to Lok Sabha and win at least 1 seat in Lok Sabha.
  • A party should win a minimum of three per cent of the total number of seats or a minimum of three seats in the Legislative Assembly, whichever is higher.
  • A party should win at least one seat in the Lok Sabha for every 25 seats or any fraction thereof allotted to that State.
  • Under the liberalized criteria, one more clause that it will be eligible for recognition as state party if it secures 8% or more of the total valid votes polled in the state.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Highlights of the Corruption Perception Index, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CPI

Mains level : Prevalence of corruption in India

The Transparency International (TI)’s corruption perception index (CPI) was recently released for 2020.

Another set of useful data in news to be noted by aspirants. Such data are essential and need to be memorized. One must note here. Such data recur every year. So it is not a big task to deal with such numbers along with other critical indices.

About the Corruption Perception Index

  • The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption.
  • It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

Global prospects

  • Denmark and New Zealand top the index, with 88 points. Syria, Somalia and South Sudan come last, with 14, 12 and 12 points, respectively.
  • Nearly half of countries have been stagnant on the index for almost a decade, indicating stalled government efforts to tackle the root causes of corruption.
  • More than two-thirds score below 50.

India’s performance

  • The CPI score for India is constant this year as well as the previous year’s score.
  • India’s rank is 86 out of 180 nations with a score of 40.
  • It was ranked at 80th position out of 180 countries in 2019 with a score of 41.

A comparison with neighbours

  • At 40, India’s score is below the average score of the Asia-Pacific region (31 countries) and global average, the CPI 2020 report stated.
  • India’s overall score is also two points less than that of China, which docked at 78th position, with a score of 42.
  • Pakistan, however, scored just 31 points, falling at the 144th position on the index.

What does it mean for India?

  • India is still very low on corruption Index, the report said, noting that experts feel the CPI does not reflect the actual corruption level in any country.
  • The integrity score determines the corruption situation of a country.

Recommendations made by TI

To reduce corruption and better respond to future crises, Transparency International recommends that all governments:

  • Strengthen oversight institutions to ensure resources reach those most in need. Anti-corruption authorities and oversight institutions must have sufficient funds, resources and independence to perform their duties.
  • Ensure open and transparent contracting to combat wrong-doing, identify conflicts of interest and ensure fair pricing.
  • Defend democracy and promote civic space to create the enabling conditions to hold governments accountable.
  • Publish relevant data and guarantee accessto information to ensure the public receives easy, accessible, timely and meaningful information.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Six years on, Lokpal is a non-starter

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.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Corruption Perception Index 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Corruption Perception Index 2019

Mains level : Menace of corruption in India

The Corruption Perception report for 2019 has been released. It has revealed that a majority of countries are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption.

About CPI

  • The CPI is annually released by Transparency International.
  • It draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

India’s performance

  • India’s ranking in the CPI-2019 has slipped from 78 to 80 compared to the previous year.
  • Its score of 41 out of 100 remains the same.
  • CPI highlighted that unfair and opaque political financing, undue influence in decision-making and lobbying by powerful corporate interest groups, has resulted in stagnation or decline in the control of corruption.

Global corruption

  • In the Asia Pacific region, the average score is 45, after many consecutive years of an average score of 44, which “illustrates general stagnation” across the region.
  • China has improved its position from 87 to 80 with a score of 41 out of 100, a two-point jump.
  • Despite the presence of high performers like New Zealand (87), Singapore (85), Australia (77), Hong Kong (76) and Japan (73), the Asia Pacific region hasn’t witnessed substantial progress in anti-corruption.
  • In addition, low performers like Afghanistan (16), North Korea (17) and Cambodia (20) continue to highlight serious challenges in the region.
  • The top ranked countries are New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85).

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Logo, motto introduced for Lokpal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Lokpal and its functions


  • Lokpal Chairman Justice (retired) Pinaki Chandra Ghose launched the new logo and motto for the apex anti-corruption ombudsman.
  • The Lokpal became functional after the appointment of its Chairman and members in March 2019.

About the Logo

  • The logo was designed by Prashant Mishra, a resident of Prayagraj in UP in a competition.
  • The logo symbolizes how Lokpal protects and cares for the people of India by establishing justice as per law.
  • The logo figuratively symbolizes the essence of Lokpal with:
  1. the inclusion of shapes such as the ombudsman [Judges’ Bench]
  2. the people [three human figures],
  3. vigilance [an Ashoka Chakra forming an eye],
  4. the law [a shape of book] and the judicial [two tri-color hands placed below, forming a unique balance].

The motto

  • The Lokpal unanimously decided to take one portion of the above 1st sloka of ‘Ishabasoupanishad’.
  • It is read as under:-

मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम्”

The meaning of the above slogan/motto in Hindi is          मा गृधः= लोभ, मत करो, कस्यस्वित्=किसी के, धनम्=धन का i.e. किसी के धन का लोभ मत करो. The meaning in English is “Do not be greedy for anyone’s wealth.”


Back2Basics

Explained: How Lokpal will form, function

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Explained: Anti-defection law and its evolution


  • In the extraordinary political drama unfolding in Maharashtra, it remains unclear precisely till when is the new government established.
  • The gazette notification for the revocation of President’s Rule by President was issued at 5.47 am.

Seeds of Ant-Defection: The 1967 elections

  • The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, inserted by The Constitution (52nd Amendment) Act, 1985, when Rajiv Gandhi’s government was in power.
  • The seeds were sown after the general elections in 1967.
  • The results of those elections were a mixed bag for the Congress. It formed the government at the Centre, but its strength in Lok Sabha fell from 361 to 283.
  • During the year it lost control of seven state governments as MLAs shifted their political allegiance.
  • In this backdrop, P Venkatasubbaiah, a MP in Lok Sabha proposed the setting up of a high-level committee to make recommendations to tackle the “problem of legislators changing their allegiance from one party to another”.
  • The proposal saw a spirited debate in Lok Sabha. Opposition members suggested renaming the proposal to “save Congress”, while the ruling party accused the opposition of inducing MLAs to defect.

The Y B Chavan panel

  • Despite the acrimony, the Lok Sabha agreed to the setting up of a committee to examine the problem of political defections. The then Home Minister, Y B Chavan, headed the committee.
  • The panel defined defection — and an exception for genuine defectors.
  • According to the committee, defection was the voluntary giving up of allegiance of a political party on whose symbol a legislator was elected, except when such action was the result of the decision of the party.
  • In its report, the committee noted “that the lure of office played a dominant part in decisions of legislators to defect”.
  • To combat this, the committee recommended a bar on defecting legislators from holding ministerial positions for a year — or until the time they got themselves re-elected.
  • It also suggested a smaller CoM both at the levels of the Centre and the states.
  • The committee was in favour of political parties working together to help evolve a code of conduct to effectively tackle disruptions.

Early attempts at a law

  • Following the report of the Y B Chavan committee, two separate legislative attempts, both unsuccessful, were made to find a solution to defections.
  • The first one was made by Indira’s Home Minister Uma Shankar Dikshit in 1973; the second, in 1978, by Shanti Bhushan, Minister for Law and Justice in the Janata Party government of Morarji Desai.
  • The third attempt — which was successful — was made in 1985, after the Congress won more than 400 seats in Lok Sabha in the aftermath of Indira’s assassination.

The Tenth Schedule

  • The Bill to amend the Constitution was introduced by Rajiv Gandhi’s Law Minister Ashoke Kumar Sen, the veteran barrister and politician who had also served in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said: “The evil of political defections has been a matter of national concern. If it is not combated, it is likely to undermine the very foundations of our democracy and the principles which sustain it.”
  • The amendment by which the Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution, did three broad things.
  1. One, it made legislators liable to be penalised for their conduct both inside (voting against the whip of the party) and outside (making speeches, etc.) the legislature — the penalty being the loss of their seats in Parliament or the state legislatures.
  2. Two, it protected legislators from disqualification in cases where there was a split (with 1/3rd of members splitting) or merger (with 2/3rds of members merging) of a legislature party with another political party.
  3. Three, it made the Presiding Officer of the concerned legislature the sole arbiter of defection proceedings.

Criticism and passage

  • Opposition argued that the Bill would curtail the freedom of speech and expression of legislators.
  • The leftists expressed concern over the impact the amendment could have on the office of the Speaker.
  • The Bill was debated in Lok Sabha on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, and was passed by Rajya Sabha the following day.
  • Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi referred in Parliament to the Mahatma’s seven social sins, the first one being politics without principles.

The immediate challenges

  • No sooner was the law put in place than political parties started to stress-test its boundaries.
  • The issue of what constitutes a spilt in a political party rocked both the V P Singh and the Chandra Shekhar governments.
  • The role of the Presiding Officers also became increasingly politicised.
  • Lok Sabha Speaker Shivraj Patil said in 1992: “The Speaker is not expected to dabble in keeping the political parties weak or strong or discipline the Parliamentarians for their party purposes.”

Judicial intervention

  • The intervention of the higher judiciary was sought to decide questions such as what kinds of conduct outside the legislature would fall in the category of defection, and what was the extent of the Speaker’s power in deciding defections.
  • The Supreme Court, while upholding the supremacy of the Speaker in defection proceedings, also held that the Speaker’s decisions were subject to judicial review.

The 2003 Amendment

  • The last step in the legislative journey of the anti-defection law came in 2003.
  • An Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament by the government of PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to address some of the issues with the law.
  • However, as events in the years and decades since have demonstrated, these amendments have had only limited impact.

Pranab Mukherjee Committee

  • A committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee examined the Bill.
  • The committee observed that the provision of split has been grossly misused to engineer multiple divisions in the party, as a result of which the evil of defection has not been checked in the right earnest.
  • Further it is also observed that the lure of office of profit plays dominant part in the political horse-trading resulting in spate of defections and counter defections
  • The one-third split provision which offered protection to defectors was deleted from the law on the committee’s recommendation.
  • The 2003 Amendment also incorporated the 1967 advice of the Y B Chavan committee in limiting the size of the Council of Ministers, and preventing defecting legislators from joining the Council of Ministers until their re-election.

The (ab)use of the law

  • The removal of the split provision prompted political parties to engineer wholesale defections (to merge) instead of smaller ‘retail’ ones.
  • Legislators started resigning from the membership of the House in order to escape disqualification from ministerial berths.
  • The ceiling on the size of the Council of Ministers meant an increase in the number of positions of parliamentary secretaries in states.
  • The Speakers started taking an active interest in political matters, helping build and break governments.

Prime focus: the Speaker

  • The anti-defection law does not specify a timeframe for Speakers to decide on defection proceedings.
  • When the politics demanded, Speakers were either quick to pass judgment on defection proceedings or delayed acting on them for years on end.
  • The events in the Karnataka Vidhan Sabha in the summer of this year showed that even after three decades, the anti-defection law has not been able to stop political defections.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Quid pro quo

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quid pro quo

Mains level : Impeachment of US President

As the dramatic proceedings to impeach Trump unfold in the United States Congress, one expression that has been heard over and over again is “quid pro quo”.

Quid pro quo

  • Quid pro quo, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means “something given or received for something else”.
  • In the 1500s in England, it was often used in the sense of apothecaries substituting one medicine for the other, by accident or design.
  • It has also been part of trade lexicon as a term for the barter system.
  • Quid pro quo, like many Latin phrases, made its way into legal terminology, where it is now used to imply a mutually beneficial deal between two parties.
  • In political contexts, like the one involving Trump currently, it is often seen as an essential requirement to suggest or establish corruption, wrongdoing, or impropriety.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

[op-ed snap] It’s time officers renewed their commitment to the nation, not the govt of the day

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Civil Services - need for reforms

CONTEXT

We often hear questions on the integrity of civil services, organisations such as the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI and the intentions of taxmen when they do some tasks as part of their job.

Background

There is a belief that the country’s “rusted steel frame” poses a challenge. But not many concrete measures to offer that can strengthen and refurbish it. 

Civil services training 

  • The training academies in Mussoorie, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Baroda, Shimla, etc. are state-of-the-art and well-equipped to enhance the skills of trainees.
  • These institutes impart training in subjects specific to the job profile of each service.
  • But what about the spirit of the civil services? What about “the impartiality and incorruptibility of administration”, that Sardar Patel expected? 
  • The backbone to withstand the pressures of expediency, politicians, media, and mobs is withering.

Role models who fought alone

  • A commissioner of police who, when asked not to oppose the bail of a film star who was the son of a Mumbai politician, refused to comply, politely but firmly.
  • A young IAS officer refused to write the interview marks of candidates in pencil — so the politicians on the board could “manipulate” them later.
  • A tax officer refused to open a closed file to “teach a lesson to an unfriendly” business house.

Challenges

  • These actions are known only to a few.
  • There are awards for innovation and achieving targets, but none for awarding an officer for standing by the principles she is supposed to be true to.
  • Case studies have been developed for performance, but none exist for those who abide by their commitment to a just and equitable society and dare to differ with “orders from the top”.

Problems

  • Encroachment of the sphere of work of civil servants by self-serving politicians of all political parties. 
  • Civil servants have been slow in the delivery of services and tardy in the implementation of policies. 
  • Many civil servants have become corrupt.
  • Services lost their speed of delivery and idealism in the 1960s. 
  • The relevance of civil services remains limited, post-liberalisation.

Civil Services for the common man

  • Common man still sees a lot of hope in the civil services. 
  • His dream is to have his child join them for the prestige and power that the services seem to carry. 
  • To him, the services represent a very important tool to establish an equitable society through which he hopes to better his life and the future of his children. 
  • He does not think of “using” the services for his selfish ends but for the common good.

What civil servants have to do

  • Spread the culture of performance and accountability and punish the corrupt. 
  • Resist undue pressures from different players, and concentrate on the delivery of services to the poor.

Justice Khanna – a case study

  • Justice H R Khanna remains the most remembered for his principled stand against Emergency. 
  • Very few have heard of the other four judges. 
  • Though his judgment blew him away from the coveted chair of the Chief Justice of India, about 50 law graduates wrote about him for his refusal to toe the line of the selfish political leadership of the time.

CONCLUSION

We need the likes of Justice Khanna to motivate the civil services to take a principled stand.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

[op-ed snap] The corrosive effect of corrupt anti-corruption campaigns

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Corruption Perception Index

Mains level : Corruption - data and analysis

CONTEXT

The crisis in the Amazon is a stark example of the damage that can be done when governments bow to business interests. It also highlights the manipulation of anti-corruption efforts to undermine democracy and advance an authoritarian political agenda.

Corruption Index

The US is 22nd on the 180-country list; among major developing and emerging economies, India is 78th, China is 87th, Brazil is 105th, and Nigeria is 144th.

Debate on corruption

  1. Some conservative economists argue that corruption can be beneficial as it enables economic actors to bypass regulations, thereby enabling markets to function more effectively. 
  2. But corruption corrodes markets, protects incumbents from competitive challenges by impeding the entry of new actors, destroys the moral fabric of society, and stunts economic development. 
  3. As Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows, there is a strong inverse correlation between development and corruption.
  4. According to the latest CPI data, the world’s least corrupt countries are Denmark and New Zealand. Both have achieved high standards of living. 
  5. The world’s most corrupt countries are Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria—all poor and mired in conflict. 
  6. Data suggests that the common belief that corruption is hardwired in some societies is not always correct. Corruption levels can and do change.
    • A couple of centuries ago, corruption was rampant in countries like the United Kingdom, which today ranks 11th on the CPI.
    • Prior to self-government in 1959, Singapore was beset by corruption. This year, it reached third place.

Addressing corruption

  1. There is a connection between corruption management and democratic compromise. This is why many leaders who come to power to control corruption end up nurturing cronyism and damaging democracy instead.
  2. Some political leaders launch a corruption “purge” that targets rivals or critics for prosecution. It is easy in countries rife with high-level corruption
  3. In countries where it is endemic, corruption can implicate even those who would prefer to operate according to the law. Corruption can proliferate easily, especially in a context where it is already an embedded part of everyday life. 

Back2Basics

  1. The index is released by Transparency International
  2. The index ranks the countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople
  3. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clear

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

[op-ed snap] Shadow over data

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Loss of autonomy of NSC will raise doubts on official data.

CONTEXT

On May 23, while the counting of votes for the Lok Sabha election was underway, the NDA government passed an order to merge the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) with the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Details of the order

The order, which cleared the formation of an overarching body — National Statistical Office (NSO) — skipped any mention of the National Statistical Commission (NSC).

As the NSC is an independent body which oversees technical aspects of the NSSO’s statistical work, the worry is that this move will impinge on the autonomy enjoyed by the NSSO so far.

Coming at a time when data put out by the Indian statistical system is already under a cloud of suspicion, this is likely to raise further questions over the independence of the statistical system.

Loss of autonomy of Indian statistical system

Events over the past year have suggested that all is not well in the Indian statistical system.

New GDP series data –

  • At the centre of it all, was the NSC. It all began when a report, prepared by a committee appointed by the NSC, showed that under the new GDP series, the economy had grown at a much faster pace under the UPA, than previously estimated.
  • With the NDA government quick to disown it, the matter acquired a political dimension.

Employment Report

  • A few months later, P C Mohanan, acting chairman of the NSC, and J V Meenakshi, Professor at the Delhi School of Economics, resigned from the NSC, protesting against the decision to not publish the NSSO’s employment survey.
  • The results of the survey showed that unemployment in India had surged under the NDA.

Shell companies under MCA 21

  • Then, a few weeks ago, another report by the NSSO showed that a large number of companies in the MCA21 database — which is integral to estimating GDP under the new series — either couldn’t be traced or had closed down or were operating in different sectors.
  • This warrants a relook at the manner in which the MCA21 database is used for estimating GDP.

Conclusion

  • This series of events, followed by the government’s latest order, is likely to increase scepticism of official data.
  • But, while the more immediate concern is that of the role of the NSC, the larger concern is the decline of what was once a famed statistical system.
  • For a government that should have begun its new term by re-building the credibility of the system, this is not a good start.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

[op-ed snap] Turf issues in fighting corruption

Note4Students

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

 

Context

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:
    1. The Lokpal
    2. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
    3. 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.
  1. 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.

2.Superintendency issue

  • 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?

Conclusion

  • 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.

 

 

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

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

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

[op-ed snap] Lokpal, at last

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Delay in appointment of Lokpal and consequences after appointment of Lokpal.


NEWS

CONTEXT

The selection of Justice P.C. Ghose as the first Lokpal has come after an unjustified delay of five years. Nevertheless, it ought to be welcomed as a milestone in the cause of fighting corruption in high places.

Background

  • The concept of an institutional mechanism, or an anti-corruption ombudsman, has been around for over 50 years.
  • It was finally enacted as a law in 2013, and came into effect on January 16, 2014.
  • Some of the credit for driving this legislation must be given to Anna Hazare’s movement against what many saw as unreasonable levels of corruption under the previous UPA regime.

Delay in implementation

  • Barring a report by the Standing Committee of Parliament and a couple of amendments passed in 2016 on the declaration of assets by public servants, there has been very little progress.
  • At one point, the government’s lack of political will to establish a Lokpal became obvious, leading to the Supreme Court repeatedly asking it to show progress in its efforts.
  • Ultimately, it was the court’s stern ultimatum to appoint a Lokpal within a timeframe that worked.
  • The government had initially taken the position that it was awaiting the passage of amendments based on the parliamentary committee report.
  • One amendment pertained to including the leader of the largest party in the Opposition in the selection committee, in the absence of a recognised Leader of the Opposition.
  • In a verdict in April 2017, the Supreme Court rejected the excuse and said there was no legal bar on the selection committee moving ahead even if there was a vacancy.
  • It is not clear why this simple amendment, carried out in respect of selection committees for the posts of CBI Director and Chief Information Commissioner, was not made in the Lokpal Act.
  • The Congress leader in the Lok Sabha,  did not want to attend selection committee meetings as a ‘special invitee’ and wanted full membership.

Appointment System

  • The appointment system is quite long, a two-stage process.
  • A search committee has to be formed.
  • It recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee, which 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.
  • The selection panel has to choose from a short-list consisting of names for the posts of Lokpal chairperson, and judicial and non-judicial members.

Consequences

  • Now that the Lokpal has been chosen, victims of corruption have a viable avenue of redress.
  • The Lokpal will take over the work of sanctioning prosecution, besides exercising its power to order preliminary inquiries and full-fledged investigations by any agency, including the CBI.

Conclusion

It may be unrealistic to expect any dramatic impact on the lives of the common people, but the Lokpal and other members have a historic responsibility to live up to popular expectations.

 

 

 

 

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Explained: How Lokpal will form, function

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Lokpal and Lokayukta

Mains level: Appointment of the Lokpal


News

  • On this Sunday, a selection panel finalised the name of former SC judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the first head of the Lokpal, a national anti-corruption ombudsman.
  • This comes five years after the President had given assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
  • Take a look at how the rest of the Lokpal will be selected, and how it will function:

Who all remain to be selected in Lokpal?

  • Justice Ghose was selected by committee headed by the Prime Minister.
  • The same selection committee will choose the Lokpal’s other members.
  • Under the 2013 Act, the Lokpal should consist of a chairperson and such number of members, not exceeding eight, of whom 50% should be judicial members.
  • The selection procedure for these posts is the same as that for the chairperson.
  • A search committee will prepare a panel of candidates, a selection committee will recommend names from among this panel, and the President will appoint these as members.
  • The Act states that not less than 50% of the members of the Lokpal should be from among persons belonging to the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
  • The same rules apply members of the search committee.
  • 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.

Terms of Reference

  • The Lokpal will set about creating its various wings.
  • It will have an “Inquiry Wing, headed by the Director of Inquiry, for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988”.
  • It will also have a “Prosecution Wing, headed by the Director of Prosecution, for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act”.
  • Once the other members of the Lokpal are appointed, the process for more appointments will start: Secretary, Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution and other officers and staff of the Lokpal.

Ambit of the Lokpal

  • For a wide range of public servants from the PM, ministers and MPs, to groups A, B, C and D employees of the central government various rules are in place.
  • If a complaint is filed against the PM, the Act says, “Lokpal shall inquire or cause an inquiry to be conducted into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint”.
  • However, certain conditions will apply. The Act 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.
  • Also, complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of an inquiry and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.
  • Such an inquiry against the Prime Minister (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.

Lokpal itself is also subjected to the Law

  • The Act also includes the Lokpal’s own members under the definition of “public servant”.
  • The Chairperson, Members, officers and other employees of the Lokpal shall be deemed, when acting or purporting to act in pursuance of any of the provisions of this Act to be public servants.
  • It shall apply to public servants in and outside India.
  • It clarifies that a complaint under this Act shall only relate to a period during which the public servant was holding or serving in that capacity.

Inquiry Process

  • The Lokpal may, after receiving a complaint against any public servant, order a preliminary inquiry (to be completed with in 90 days) or investigation by any agency.
  • After receiving the report of the preliminary inquiry, the Lokpal may order an investigation by any agency or departmental proceedings or any other appropriate action by the competent authority, or it can order closure of the proceedings.

Office of the Lokayuktas

  • These are the state equivalents of the central Lokpal.
  • Every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the State Legislature within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act,” states Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act.
  • This means establishment of the institution of the Lokayukta including any appointment therein falls within the domain of the states.

When are the states expected to set up their respective Lokayuktas?

  • In some states, Lokayuktas were already functioning when the 2013 Act was passed. Most states, however, are without a Lokayukta.
  • The Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram Assemblies had passed Lokayukta Bills in 2014.
  • Following the SC order, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry Assemblies passed their respective Bills in July last year.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Rajasthan gears up for social accountability Bill

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rajasthan Social Accountability Bill, 2019

Mains level: Best practices of bringing transparency and accountability in administration


News

  • Rajasthan state government is all geared up to bring Rajasthan Social Accountability Bill, 2019.
  • The Bill would ensure accountability of public functionaries and authorities for timely delivery of goods, services and disposal of their grievances on time.

Rajasthan Social Accountability Bill, 2019

  1. The draft bill aims at ensuring provision of quality individual goods and public goods and services in a time bound manner.
  2. It says that every person/group of persons shall have the right to be mandatorily informed about the planning, implementation and expenditure of delivery of all goods and services through a comprehensive and open architecture for information dissemination.

Aim and Objectives

  1. The draft bill aims at ensuring provision of quality individual goods and public goods and services in a time bound manner.
  2. The Bill includes provisions for citizens’ charter, public hearing, social audit and information and facilitation centres.
  3. The new accountability law would incorporate the provisions of the Guaranteed Delivery of Public Services Act and the Right to Hearing Act.

Time bound grievance redressal

  1. Every person/group of persons shall have the right to file a grievance, obtain a dated acknowledgement receipt and ensure the redress of such grievances as per provisions of this Act.
  2. It provisions that every complainant shall have the right to participate in a block level open public hearing in the presence of concerned officials within 14 days of filing the grievance.
  3. The complainant shall have the right to disposal of the grievance and the receipt of a written Action Taken Report within 30 days of filing the grievance.
  4. In case of not getting satisfactory response, the complainant shall have the right to appeal against the decision taken on his/her grievance to an independent appellate authority at the District/Divisional and State Level.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Explained: The search for a Lokpal

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act

Mains level: Read the attached story


Context

  1. For decades, India has made efforts to appoint an anti-corruption ombudsman.
  2. Last week, the Supreme Court “requested” a search committee to suggest by February-end a panel of names for appointment of the country’s first Lokpal.
  3. A look at how these efforts have unfolded, from Bills in 1970s to an Act in 2013, followed by a search committee and an SC deadline

Background

  1. Amid repeated demands for an ombudsman, many attempts were made at legislation, with Lokpal Bills introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008, but none of these was passed.
  2. It was four decades after the introduction of the first Bill that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was enacted in December 2013.
  3. This was the fallout of a public movement for a Jan Lokpal Bill, initiated by activist of India Against Corruption movement.
  4. Under pressure at a time when it was facing several allegations of corruption, the then UPA government brought the Bill and it was passed after several hurdles.

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act

  1. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 was notified on January 1, 2014.
  2. It provides for establishing a body to be called the Lokpal and headed by a Chairperson, who is or has been a Chief Justice of India, or is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court, or an eminent person who fulfils eligibility criteria as specified.
  3. Of its other members, not exceeding eight, 50% are to be judicial members, provided that not less than 50% of the members belong to the SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, and women.

Various Provisions

  1. Inquiry Wing: Lokpal will have an “Inquiry Wing, headed by the Director of Inquiry, for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  2. Prosecution Wing: It will also have a “Prosecution Wing headed by the Director of Prosecution for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act”.
  3. For states, the Act says: Every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the State within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act.

Jurisdiction of Lokpal

  1. The Lokpal Act covers a wide range of public servants — from the Prime Minister, ministers and MP, to groups A, B, C and D officers of the central government.
  2. These are to deal with complaints against public servants; the chairperson and members of the Lokpal too come under the definition of “public servant”.

Taking PM under purview

  1. Lokpal shall inquire or cause an inquiry to be conducted into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint” in respect of the PM, the Act says.
  2. However, 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.
  3. Also, 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.
  4. Such an inquiry against the PM (if conducted) is to be held in camera.
  5. 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.

Undue delay for implementation

  1. Once the Bill was passed, applications were invited on January 17, 2014 for filling up the post of Chairperson and eight posts of members.
  2. The same day, the search committee rules were notified, but appointments to the committee were not made. Lok Sabha elections followed, and a new government was formed in May 2014.
  3. The same year, the NGO Common Cause filed a petition in the Supreme Court, and later a contempt petition, over the delay.

What next

  1. Once the search committee submits its recommendation for the Lokpal and its members, a selection committee will consider those names and forward them to the President for his consideration.
  2. The selection committee is chaired by the PM, and its members are the Lok Sabha Speaker, LoP in LS, the CJI or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist as nominated by the President.
  3. Under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, a Lokayukta is to be appointed in every state within one year of the passing of the Act, but several states are yet to appoint such an institution.
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments