In news–Recently, the state government of Kerala has proposed to amend the Kerala Lokayukta Act with an ordinance.
What is the proposal?
- The amendment proposes to give the government powers to “either accept or reject the verdict of the Lokayukta, after giving an opportunity of being heard”.
- Currently, under Section 14 of the Act, a public servant is required to vacate office if directed by the Lokayukta.
About the Central Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013-
- The Central Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 was notified on January 1, 2014.
- The law was a result of demands of several decades for stronger anti-corruption laws.
- The first Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) recommended the enacting of the Office of a Lokpal and Lpkayuktas.
- The term “Lokpal” was coined by Dr. L.M.Singhvi in 1963.
- The concept of a constitutional ombudsman was first proposed in parliament by Law Minister Ashoke Kumar Sen in the early 1960s.
- The Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (headed by Shri M.N. Venkatachaliah) recommended the appointment of the LokPal and Lokayuktas; also recommended that the PM be kept out of the ambit of the authority.
- The Act provides for establishing a Lokpal 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.
- Of its other members, not exceeding eight, 50% are to be judicial members, provided that not less than 50% belong to the SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, or are women.
- The Lokpal and Lokayukta are to deal with complaints against public servants, a definition that includes the Lokpal chairperson and members.
- The Lokpal has jurisdiction to inquire into allegations of corruption against anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union Government under Groups A, B, C and D.
- The Lokpal was appointed in March 2019 and it started functioning in March 2020 when its rules were framed.
- The Lokpal is at present headed by former Supreme Court Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose.
- Lokayuktas are the state equivalents of the central Lokpal.
- Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 states: “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, to deal with complaints relating to corruption against certain public functionaries, within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act.”
- Originally, the central legislation was envisaged to make a Lokayukta in each state mandatory.
- However, regional parties and other national parties argued that this would be against the spirit of federalism.
- The law then created a mere framework, leaving it to the states to decide the specifics.
Which states have Lokayuktas?
- When the 2013 Act was passed, Lokayuktas were already functioning in some states — including in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
- Following the Act and the intervention of the Supreme Court, most states have now set up a Lokayukta.
- In 2018, the Supreme Court had expressed concern that Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh had not appointed any Lokayukta.
- However, given that states have autonomy to frame their own laws, the Lokayukta’s powers vary from state to state on various aspects, such as tenure, and need of sanction to prosecute officials.