In view of ongoing debate on Jan Lokpal bill, following post, on history as well as efficacy of the Lokpal Bill in the states, is again circulated for further understanding of the arguments
Effectiveness of Lokpal/Lokauykta institutions
Presently Lokpal and Lokauykta institutions are much in currency, what with Justice Santosh Hegde (Lokauykta of Karnataka) and demand from a number of civil organisations / citizens in strengthening the institutions of Lokpal /okauykta. It is worth knowing the status of the institutions among different states.
It may be worth noting that originally institution of Lokpal / Lokauykta was recommended by an Administrative Reform Commission headed by Morarji Desai in 1966 (yes more than 45 years old and we are still debating pros and cons !). Basically the concept was taken from the institution of ombudsmen in Sweden and some other Scandinavian countries.
There are several Lokauykta / Lokpals in place, except for in case of Karnataka ans MP in most places these are toothless bodies, serving little purpose.
Lokauykta institution in Karnataka was started in 1986, by replacing Vigilance Commission, and is one of the strongest, both because of the powers vested in the institutions and the persons who have presided over these. Justice Santosh Hegde has been in news, but before him Justice N Venkatachala, who made a point of himself being present during the raids by his investigating teams.
The institution has a special police unit for investigation. It has powers to suo moto prosecute Class I officers after intimating the govt (but not politicians – we all know how ugly such situations can become). However it requires permission from the Govt. to punish such officials, this is rarely granted.
Institution was commenced in 1982 by replacing the state Vigilance Commission. Lokauykta, has authority to investigate all public servants except Assembly speaker, dy. Speaker and judicial officers. It is well supported by own Police force, including DG, IG and SPs. Lok Ayukata alongwith his deputy also has judicial powers of prosecution.
It has only three officers of DSP rank and has three judicial offices for investigation. None of the anti-corruption agencies report to him in the state. All judicial officers or court staff, state legislature staff do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Lokauykta.
It was the first state in India to start this institution in 1970. Though repealed by Biju Patnaik Govt in 1992, it was revived in 1995. However the institution is quite weak, as it does not have any investigative-wing and the state vigilance dept. also does not report to it. It has to ask for the vigilance officials whenever required. It cannot act against anyone on its own and has to take permission of the state Govt.
In Punjab while the first lokpal was appointed in 1995, however the successive Govts. did not consider it necessary to formulate rules for its workings, which have only been formulated recently. Position has been vacant for long periods. It is short of officers to undertake investigations. In none of the cases, govt. has taken any action on its recommendations.
Though he can look into any complaint against any public servant, including the Chief Minister, but it is left to the Government to act. Even Vigilance Bureau does not report to him. Previous Lokayukta called it a toothless body.
While the state has both Lokayukta (a retired judge) and an Upa-Lokaykta (a retired IAS officer), however there are too many restrictions on which cases they can take for investigation. Even the Anti-corruption bureau doe not report to the Lok-Ayukta but to state police chief.
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