OMBUDSMAN

    Edited by: Vaani Garg

    INTRODUCTION

    Lokpal is the Indian version of ‘OMBUDSMAN’. The concept of ‘OMBUDSMAN’ was borrowed from Sweden. The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 by Laxmi Mall Singhvi. The term ‘Lokpal’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘lok” (people) and ‘pala’ (caretaker) which means “ “caretaker of people”. It represents the public interest in the Republic of India.

    Lokpal and Lokayuktas are not constitutional bodies but derive their power from the statute enacted in 2013. According to the Sweden concept, the legislature appoints an officer to solve the issues of citizens caused due to the decision of the administrative department. An officer is then appointed to solve the problems of citizens as the judiciary can not interfere in every matter of the administrative authorities and most importantly Ombudsman is independent of the other three organs of the government. The officer deals with the problem of citizens independently.

    BACKGROUND

    • In 1960s  Law Minister, Ashok Kumar Sen suggested the concept of Ombudsman in parliament.
    • In 1968,  the Lokpal Bill was introduced in parliament but was not passed. Eight attempts were made till 2011 to pass the Bill but went in vain.
    • In 2013, Anna Hazare led an ‘India against corruption movement’ which put pressure on the United Progress Alliance (UPA) and resulted in the passing of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013 in both the houses of parliament.
    • On 1st January 2014, it received assent from the President and came into force on 16th January 2014.

    WHO CAN BECOME A MEMBER  AND CHAIRPERSON OF LOKPAL ?

    • The term of office for members and chairperson is 5 years and the maximum age of the person is 70 years.
    • Lokpal is a multi-member body that consists of  1 chairperson and a maximum of  8 members, out of which half will be judicial members.
    • The chairperson of Lokpal should be either the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
    • The members are appointed by the president on the recommendation of a Selection Committee. Minimum 50% of members will be from SC/ST/OBC/Minorities and Women.
    • the selection committee constitutes a search panel of at least eight persons for the selection of chairperson and members of Lokpal.

    REMOVAL OF CHAIRPERSON

    • A person who holds the office of profit.
    • A person who was removed from public service and members of municipality or panchayats.
    • MPs and MLAs who are convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude.
    • If the person is less than 45 years of age.

    POWERS AND DUTIES

    • Lokpal has the power to suspend and recommend the transfer of a public servant on allegation of corruption.
    • During the preliminary inquiry, Lokpal give direction to prevent the destruction of records.
    • Lokpal also has the power to give direction to any investigating agency including CBI.
    • A special court is conducted for the trial of cases recommended by Lokpal.
    • Prime Ministers, Ministers, Member of Parliament, Group A, B, C and D officers and Officials of Central government falls under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
    • Lokpal has the power to seize the assets which are acquired by means of corruption.