Lokpal and reforms
Recently, Justice Prafulla Kumar Misra has retired from the post of Goa Lokayukta and has highlighted the issues related to the state office and the proceedings.
1. State Governments have not provided its support and helping hand to the Lokayukta in its functioning. Critically analyse.
● It is an anti-corruption ombudsman organisation in the states of India.
● The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for establishment of the institution of Lokpal at the centre; and Lokayuktas at the state levels to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries, and for related matters.
● Even much before the enactment of the Act itself, many states in India had already setup the institutions of Lokayuktas.
● The Lokayukta, along with the Income Tax Department and the Anti -Corruption Bureau will act as a safeguard in our democratic framework; and help people to highlight corruption cases.
Issue with Lokayuktas:
● Lokayuktas complain that they do not get sufficient information from the government departments, and State investigating agencies. As a result, complaints filed with Lokayuktas are not cleared expeditiously; and thus, citizens do not get speedy justice.
● No whistle-blower protection: No Whistle-blower protection condition is there in the Lokpal and Lokayukta. This was one of the main demands in the Jan Lokpal Bill.
● There is only one section on Lokayukta in the Act, which states that within one year, the states shall enact the Lokayukta Act. However, there is nothing regarding their composition, powers etc. In fact, states are free to define how their own Lokayuktas would be appointed, how they would work and under what circumstances they would serve.
● There are no adequate provisions to appealagainst the Lokayukta, as it cannot conduct inquiry against itself.
In November 2012, after conclusion of the 11th All India Lokayukta Conference, as many as sixteen Lokayuktas sent following recommendations to the Government of India:
● Make Lokayukta the nodal agency for receiving all corruption complaints;
● Accord Lokayukta jurisdiction over State-level probe agencies;
● Accord powers of search and seizure, and powers to initiate contempt proceedings;
● Provide administrative and financial autonomy to the Lokayukta for better functioning; and
● Bring Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), funded by the government, under the Lokayukta’s jurisdiction.
● The Lokayuktas of various states have not shown similar orientation towards their respective roles. Some have been more enthusiastic and assertive than others, while a few others have been over-cautious and conservative in interpreting their roles.
● A few Lokayuktas could make a mark during certain periods due to support of the state political leadership, while most have suffered on account of the apathy of state governments.
● The present times have witnessed the growing popularity of the institution of Lokayukta. This could be due to massive expansion of government activities; and corrupt practices. Further corruption is anti-economic growth, which affects the development; and even some corrupt government officials endanger the security of the nation. Thus, additional measures were suggested to ensure greater transparency, and probity in public dealings.