The Draft Lokpal Bill 2010 and the Jan Lokpal Bill 2011
Jurisdiction, Powers and Functions of the Proposed Lokpal
A Quick Comparison
Justice A P Shah
Chief Justice (Retd), Delhi High Court, New Delhi
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi &
Co-Convenor, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information
Even as the Joint Committee set up by the Government of India prepares itself for drafting a Bill to establish the institution of the Lokpal (Ombudsperson cum Anti-Corruption Agency) in India, as a preparatory step towards public debate it is important to examine the contents of the draft Bills currently available in the public domain. This brief note compares the jurisdiction, powers and functions of the Lokpal as envisaged in the draft Bills prepared by the Government of India and civil society actors. The text of the Government’s Lokpal Bill 2010 was circulated through the email circuit prior to the public consultation organised by the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information in Delhi on 3rd April 2011. The draft Jan Lokpal Bill (version 2.2) is obtained from the civil society actors working tirelessly on the subject. This comparative picture is prepared with the objective of encouraging informed debate on this important subject. This is not a qualitative assessment of the provisions contained in either draft Bill.
The Lokpal Bill, 2010
Who is covered?
Public functionaries such as the Prime Minister (except for matters relating to national security, maintenance of public order, national defence and foreign relations), Ministers, Ministers of State, Deputy Ministers and Members of Parliament. [Clause (2)(h)]
Who is not covered?
The President of India, the Vice President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha (House of the People) Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha (Council of States), Chief Justice of India, Chief Justices of the High Courts, Justices of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Attorney General of India, the Chairperson and Members of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commissioners, Chairperson and Members of the Union Public Service Commission, any constitutional authority and all bureaucrats. [Clause 28]
Lokpal has the:
1. power to compulsorily collect fees from a complainant in a case; [Clause 12]
2. power to dismiss complaints after recording reasons in writing and inform the complainant; [Clause 13]
3. power to issue orders for safe custody of documents; [Clause 14]
4. power to order in camera hearings in exceptional circumstances; [Clause 14(2)]
5. power to define procedure for conducting inquiry into complaints received; [Clause 14]
6. powers of civil court to summon persons, to require discovery and production of documents, receiving affidavits, examining witnesses etc; [Clause 15]
7. powers to cause search and seizure of documents; [Clause 16]
8. power to initiate defamation proceedings under Section 199, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973; [Clause 19]
9. power to detain an offender who insults the Lokpal, summarily try him or her and award a sentence of up to one month imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs. 500; [Clause 20]
10. power to compensate the public functionary complained against from the fees deposited by the complainant; [Clause 21]
11. power to order reward or compensation to the complainant in fit cases; [Clause 21]
12. power to take cognizance of false or mala fide complaints, summarily try such cases and sentence the offender to a prison term of at least one year extendable up to three years and or fine of Rs. 50,000; [Clause 21]
13. power to delegate functions to officers of the Lokpal and other agencies except the powers of receiving complaints, dismissing complaints, trying offenders for false or mala fide complaints; [Clause 26] and
14. Lokpal and its officers have immunity from legal proceedings for action taken in good faith [Clause 24].
The Jan Lokpal Bill, 2011
Who is covered?
Public servants such as the Prime Minister, Ministers, Ministers of State, Deputy Ministers Members of Parliament, judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, government servants, Chairperson and members of a local authority (panchayats and municipalities), statutory corporations established by or under any law made by parliament, cooperative societies, government companies, members of any committee or Board whether statutory or non-statutory constituted by the Central Government and all government servants under the Central Government. A member of a private entity, if found to be involved in a case inquired into or investigated by the Lokpal falls within its jurisdiction. [Clauses 2(11), (5) & 8(2)(b)]
Who is not covered?
The President of India, the Vice President and the Speaker, Lok Sabha. [Clause 17]
What is not covered?
Lokpal is barred from investigating a case of grievance in respect of any action-
a) if the complainant has not availed himself or herself of any remedy available in any other law;
b) in respect of any action taken by a quasi-judicial body unless the complainant alleges mala fides;
c) if the entire matter is pending before a court or quasi-judicial body of competent jurisdiction; and
d) if there is an inordinate and inexplicable delay in filing the grievance. [Clause 17]
Powers relating to inquiry and investigation:
Lokpal (Chairperson, members, officers and staff) is to be a deemed police officer. Lokpal has the same powers as granted to superior police officers under Section 36 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. This will include powers of arrest. [Clauses 3(1), 12 & 25].
Lokpal is to be deemed a designated authority under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 for the purpose of phone tapping and interception of messages including those sent through the Internet. [Clause 13C]
Powers to ensure compliance:
Lokpal to have the powers of a High Court to ensure compliance with its orders. [Clause 13(4)]. The draft Bill seeks to amend the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 to give this power and authority to the Lokpal. [Clause 13(4)].
Power of appeal:
Power to hear appeals when cases are closed by its own officials. [Clause 14(5)(iii]
Any proceedings before the Lokpal is deemed to be a judicial proceeding.
Powers to protect whistleblowers:
Powers of Oversight:
|Clauses involving the judiciary or affecting its powers:|
 Since 2004 this Commission has been bifurcated into separate National Commissions, one for SCs and the other for STs.
 Section 36: “Powers of superior officers of police.– Police Officers superior in rank to an officer in charge of a police station may exercise the same powers throughout the local area to which they are appointed, as may be exercised by such officer within the limits of the station.”
 This clause overrides the power of the Supreme Court to make rules in consultation with the President of India as to the number of judges who are to sit for any purpose under Article 145(2) of the Constitution.