GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Context: This bill will replace the 1971 Lokayukta bill
Important provisions of the Maharastra Bill:
- Will need assembly approval: Lokayukta will need to seek the approval of two-thirds of the total strength of the Assembly before starting any inquiry against a minister and the motion to do so has to be placed before the House.
- Analysis: Such Two-third strength may not be possible in most the cases
- Transparency and privacy provisions: Any such inquiry shall be held in-camera and if the Lokayukta comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry shall not be published or made available to anyone.
- Analysis: It’s a good provision to ensure that public figures are not victimized.
- Exceptions added: Lokayukta will not investigate cases involving allegations of corruption against the chief minister on matters related to internal security or public order
- Analysis: Which matter will be considered related to internal security or public order has not been clearly defined
- Limited timeline: The trial against the chief minister, any other Cabinet minister and elected representatives will need to be completed within a year of the date of complaint
- Analysis: Good provision but many times investigation and trial take more than a year.
- Selection of members of the Lokayukta: They will be selected by a panel of the chief minister, deputy chief minister, Assembly Speaker, Legislative Council chairperson, Leaders of the Opposition in the Assembly and the Council and a judge appointed by the chief justice of India or the chief justice of the Bombay High Court.
- Analysis: There is a heavy bias towards government nominees in the selection panel.
- Chairperson: The chairperson of the anti-corruption body will be led by a person who is the present or former chief justice of a High Court. The body will also have judges of the Supreme Court or the Bombay High Court as its member.
- The number of members: The Lokayukta will have a maximum of four members, of whom two will be from the judiciary.
- Wider consultations: Discussions were held with social activist Anna Hazare before bringing the Bill and a committee had been formed to obtain suggestions and objections on the draft Bill.
- Provisions against misuse: If in verification, the case is wrongly filed then there is a provision in the law to take action against that person.
- The Bill was passed without any discussion and in the absence of the Opposition.
What are Lokpal and Lokayukta?
The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States (as statutory bodies without any constitutional status)
Aim: “ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and related matters.
- Till 2011 eight attempts were made to pass the Bill, but all met with failure.
- Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2002) headed by M.N. Venkatachaliah, 1st ARC and 2nd ARC recommended the appointment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas.
Q. Lokpal and Lokayukta as the ombudsmen for anti-corruption are underperforming and need reforms to achieve their true potential and ensure accountability in the administration. Examine. (250 words)