Monday, January 2, 2012

Basic FAQ on the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011

I had many unanswered questions on the Lokpal Bill. Basic questions, which many of you, like me, would have, but do not have the time to go through the details of the bill and find the answers.

I have made an attempt to go through the Bill as passed by the Lok Sabha and tried to interpret it as best as I can. Based on the contents of the Bill and my interpretations, I have compiled a set of basic questions I had.

I am working on some of the more involved "intricacies" and also on a comparison between the government Bill and the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Till such time, I hope you find this useful.

Q1. What is the purpose of the Lokpal bill?
The purpose of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, is to provide for the establishment of a body called the Lokpal for the Centre and bodies called the Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.

Q2. Is the Lokpal a person or a body?
It is a body consisting of 1 Chairperson and as many as 8 members. Of the 8 members, 4 need to be Judicial members and 4 would be non-Judicial members or simply, Members.

Q3. Are there any eligibility criteria for the members of the Lokpal?
Yes, there are eligibility and non-eligibility criteria for all three types of members, Chairperson, Judicial Member and Member.

The eligibility criteria for Chairperson are:

a)    Current or ex-Chief Justice of India
b)    Ex-Judge of the Supreme Court

The eligibility criteria for Judicial Member are:

a)    Current or ex- Judge of the Supreme Court
b)    Current or ex-Chief Justice of High Court

The eligibility criteria for Member are:

a)    Person of impeccable integrity and outstanding ability having special knowledge and expertise of atleast 25 years in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

Q4. Can elected representatives or government officials become part of the Lokpal?
No elected representative - MP, MLA, member of Panchayat or Municipality, can be part of the Lokpal. Infact, any person connected with a political party, even if not an elected representative cannot be part of the Lokpal.

A government official can be part of the Lokpal, provided such a person has not been removed or dismissed from service, and has to resign from current service to become eligible. In any case, such a person has to meet the eligibility criteria in order to be considered.

Q5. Who selects the Lokpal panel?
The President appoints the Chairperson and other members based on recommendations made by a Selection Committee consisting of:

a)    Prime Minister
b)    Speaker of the Lok Sabha
c)     Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
d)    Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice
e)    One eminent jurist nominated by the President

The Selection Committee in turn, make their recommendations from a pool of persons recommended by a Search Committee.

The Search Committee is set up by the Selection Committee and is required to have at least seven persons of standing and having special knowledge and expertise in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, policy making, finance including insurance and banking, law and management or in any other matter which, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, may be useful in making the selection of the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal.

Q6. Are there any reservations set aside for the Lokpal members?
Yes, a minimum of 4 or more members of the Lokpal have to be amongst the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and women.

Q7.  For how long can a Lokpal member hold office?
The maximum term is for 5 years or if the member reaches the age of 70.

Q8. What are the major powers of the Lokpal?
The Lokpal has the power to conduct a preliminary inquiry, investigate and prosecute any offence brought to its notice through an appropriately filed complaint. No special sanction is required to initiate the investigation and prosecution.

The Lokpal has the power to summon and examine any person as it deems necessary and even attach any property or material it believes are “proceeds of offense”. It may also recommend disciplinary action if the inquiry/investigation concludes that an offense was committed.

Q9. Who will handle the investigation and prosecution for the Lokpal?
The Bill has the provision of the Lokpal to set up its own Inquiry Wing and Prosecution Wing, each headed by a Directory.

The Inquiry Wing has the power to conduct a preliminary inquiry on a complaint and submit a report within 60 days of the receipt of the complaint. For certain categories, such as government officials, the Lokpal, will also refer the case to the Central Vigilance Committee and seeks its report as well. A bench constituted of not less than 3 members from amongst the Lokpal members will go through the reports and decide if there is a case to conduct a detailed investigation.

The investigation is to be conducted by an external agency such as the CBI and is as such not directly under the Lokpal as is its Inquiry Wing.

Upon completion of the investigation, the agency is required to submit a report to the above mentioned bench, which will decide if it merits proceeding with prosecution.

In case it does, the case is now transferred to the Prosecution Wing of the Lokpal and the case is tried in Special Courts established for the purpose of cases under the purview of the Lokpal.

Q10. Will the cases under the purview of Lokpal be tried in the normal courts?
No. All cases under the purview of Lokpal will be tried in Special Courts to be set up under the provision of the Bill.

Q11. What category of government officials / public servants comes under the ambit of the Lokpal?
The following categories of elected representatives, government officials, and individuals or bodies come under the ambit of the Lokpal:

  • Prime Minister (with several restrictions)
  • Ministers
  • Members of Parliament
  • Group A, B, C and D officials of the Central government. (Group C and D cases are handled by the CVC but supervised by the Lokpal).
  • Any person associated in a position of power such as Director, Manager, Secretary etc. of any body or organization that receives full or part aid from the government, or from the public if that exceed an amount to be notified by the government or foreign funding.
Q12. Can members or Chairperson of the Lokpal be removed?
Yes, any member including the Chairperson can be removed by the President after making a reference to the Supreme Court, providing sufficient grounds for removal. If the Supreme Court finds the grounds valid, then the President can remove the member. The President can make a reference to the Supreme Court:
  • On his own
  • On a petition signed by at least 100 MPs
  • On a petition made by any citizen, as long as the President is satisfied with the petition
There are several grounds for removal. Some of them include: misbehaviour, insolvency of the member, or violation of any of the conditions of holding the office such as being in paid employment outside of the Lokpal.

 The member could be suspend till such time the Supreme Court gives a decision.

Q13. Is it true that armed forces are not covered under the Lokpal?
Yes, the armed forces as well as the coastal guard as not under the ambit of the Lokpal.

If you have any questions that you would like answered, please post them as a comment and I will attempt to update as soon as I can.


  1. This kind of post are always useful for readers,i appreciate you shared best knowledgeable blog for us.

    Essay Type Question

  2. Its really god for one to understand the basic Lokpal in 2min ......... i appreciate u for ur best effort ..