Ex-Supreme Court judge to head panel to recommend names for Lokpal

The government constituted an eight-member search committee to recommend names for chairperson and members of the anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal.

A ministry of personnel order said the search committee would be headed by former Supreme Court judge, Ranjana Prakash Desai.

The search committee will start functioning soon. It will recommend names for Lokpal chairperson and members. It can also consider names other than those recommended by the search committee.

Highlights of the Lokpal Act of 2013:

  • The Act allows setting up of anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State-level.
  • The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.
  • The Lokpal will cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister. But the armed forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal.
  • The Act also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.
  • The States will have to institute Lokayukta within one year of the commencement of the Act.
  • The Act also ensures that public servants who act as whistleblowers are protected.

 Powers:

  • The Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
  • As per the Act, the Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe. Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
  • An investigation must be completed within six months. However, the Lokpal or Lokayukta may allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.
  • Special courts will be instituted to conduct trials on cases referred by Lokpal.
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