Lokpal and Lokayuktas

Lokpal and Lokayuktas



Established under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013, Lokpal and Lokayuktas are statutory bodies entrusted with the crucial role of combating corruption within the public sector in India.

While they do not possess constitutional status, these organizations function as ombudsmen, tasked with investigating allegations of corruption against public officials and addressing other pertinent issues affecting governance. The inception of Lokpal and Lokayuktas stemmed from recommendations put forth by the Administrative Reforms Commission under Morarji Desai, aiming to establish specialized authorities capable of addressing public grievances effectively.

Historical background of Lokpal and Lokayuktas

  • Origins of Ombudsman Concept: The concept of an ombudsman, an independent official appointed to investigate complaints against public authorities, originated in Sweden in 1809. It gained prominence after World War II, with many countries adopting similar institutions to enhance transparency and accountability in public administration.
  • Introduction in India: In the early 1960s, Ashok Kumar Sen, then Law Minister of India, proposed the idea of establishing a constitutional ombudsman in the Indian Parliament. This marked the first official discussion of such an institution in the Indian context.
  • Term "Lokpal" Coined: In 1963, L.M. Singvi coined the term "Lokpal," deriving it from the Sanskrit words "lok" (people) and "pal" (protector), signifying the guardian or protector of the people's interests.
  • Unsuccessful Attempts: Despite multiple attempts, the Lokpal Bill, which aimed to establish a national anti-corruption ombudsman, faced obstacles and was not passed in Parliament. The bill was introduced eight times but failed to become law.
  • State-Level Initiatives: Maharashtra became the first Indian state to establish a Lokayukta in 1971. The Lokayukta was tasked with overseeing and investigating corruption allegations against public officials and agencies within the state.
  • International Commitments: India has signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), demonstrating its commitment to combatting corruption at the international level. The UNCAC aims to promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption globally.
  • Legislative Action: The establishment of Lokpal and Lokayuktas received impetus from the Indian government's commitment to providing clean and responsive governance. The passage of legislation and the establishment of these bodies reflect a proactive approach to prevent and punish corruption in the country.

Commission and Movements Advocating for Lokpal and Lokayuktas

  • First Administrative Reforms Commission (1966): Led by Morarji Desai, this commission recommended the establishment of independent authorities at the national and state levels to investigate complaints against public officials, including Members of Parliament.
  • Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2002): Chaired by Shri M.N. Venkatachiliah, this commission suggested the exclusion of the Prime Minister from the Lokpal's purview.
  • Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2005): Chaired by Shri Veerappa Moily, this commission proposed the urgent establishment of the Lokpal office.
  • Anna Movement for Lokpal (2011): A significant civil society movement led by social activist Anna Hazare, demanding the establishment of a strong anti-corruption body through the enactment of the Lokpal Bill.

Timeline of Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

  • 2013: Both houses of Parliament passed the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011.
  • January 16, 2014: The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, came into effect.
  • 2016: The Act was revised to address minor gaps.
  • March and April 2018: Selection Committee meetings were held following the Supreme Court's intervention.
  • March 19, 2019: Justice (Retd) Pinaki Chandra Ghose was appointed as India's first Lokpal, along with eight judicial and non-judicial members.
  • March 2020: Rules and structure for registering complaints were announced by the Lokpal.

About the Lokpal and Lokayuktas

  • Purpose: The Lokpal serves as the first institution of its kind in independent India, established to investigate corruption charges against public officials.
  • Responsibilities: It addresses citizens' complaints regarding corruption and aims to promote clean governance by conducting unbiased investigations and prosecutions.
  • Composition: The Lokpal panel consists of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, including judicial and non-judicial members.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Members must possess specific knowledge and expertise in anti-corruption policy, public administration, law, etc., with at least 25 years of experience.
  • Selection Process: Members are appointed by the President based on recommendations from a Selection Committee, chaired by the Prime Minister.
  • Impeachment and Removal: Lokpal and Lokayukta can only be removed through impeachment motions and cannot be dismissed or transferred by the government once appointed.

Term of Office of Members of Lokpal and Lokayukta

    • Appointment: The President of India appoints the Chairperson and Members of Lokpal and Lokayukta through a warrant under his hand and seal.
    • Tenure: Members serve for a period of five years from the date of their appointment or until they reach the age of 70, whichever is earlier.
  • Salary and Allowances:
    • The Chairperson receives salary, allowances, and other working conditions similar to those of the Chief Justice of India.
    • Members receive salaries, allowances, and other working conditions similar to those of a Supreme Court Judge.

Lokayuktas in States

    • Establishment: States are mandated to establish Lokayuktas to address charges against their own officials.
  • Jurisdiction:
    • Lokayuktas have jurisdiction over all state government personnel, including religious institutions, as well as the governor, ministers, and MLAs.
    • They can be approached directly by the public with allegations of corruption, nepotism, or maladministration.
  • Status: Most states had established Lokayuktas even before the enactment of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013.
  • Implementation: Despite the Act's provision requiring states to appoint a Lokayukta within a year, only 16 states have constituted Lokayuktas.

Functions and Jurisdiction of Lokpal and Lokayukta

    • Investigation: Lokpal investigates allegations against Prime Ministers, Union Ministers, Members of Parliament, and officers of the Union Government.
    • Exceptions: Investigations related to specific areas like foreign relations, security, and public order concerning the Prime Minister require special considerations.
  • Procedure
      • Investigations into allegations against the Prime Minister require the recommendation of at least two-thirds of the Lokpal bench.
      • Investigations must be conducted secretly, and if a complaint is rejected, the investigation's documents remain confidential.
  • Jurisdiction
      • Extends to chairpersons, members, and officials of various governmental bodies and organizations supported by the Union or State governments.
      • Also applies to bodies accepting significant foreign gifts.
  • Preliminary Inquiry
      • Must be completed within 60 days, followed by a report submission to the Lokpal.
      • The Lokpal may recommend the transfer or suspension of accused officials and issue orders to prevent the destruction of records during investigations.
  • Powers
    • Include search and seizure, attachment of assets, and supervision over central investigating agencies for cases under their purview.

Branches of Lokpal

Lokpal operates through two primary branches to carry out its functions effectively:-

Administrative Branch

  • Led by a Secretary to the Government of India.
  • Comprises departments such as:
  • Inquiry/Investigation Branch: Led by an officer not lower than the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India.
  • Prosecution Wing: Headed by an officer with the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India.

Judicial Branch: Led by a judge of appropriate rank who assists Lokpal in its judicial duties.

Need of Lokpal and Lokayuktas

  • Maladministration: Corruption erodes the foundation of a nation and hinders effective administration, making it imperative to address the issue.
  • Independence: Existing anti-corruption bodies often lack independence, with institutions like the CBI criticized for being influenced by the government.
  • Advisory Role: Many anti-corruption bodies only offer advisory roles without real authority, leading to limited impact.
  • Accountability: There's a lack of clear mechanisms to ensure internal accountability and transparency in these organizations.
  • Combatting Corruption: Establishing independent Lokpal and Lokayukta bodies provided a significant defense against the persistent problem of corruption in India.

Limitations of Lokpal and Lokayuktas

  • Selection Process: Lack of clear guidelines for selecting members, leading to a skewed process.
  • Appeals: Absence of proper procedures for appealing Lokpal's actions.
  • Statute Limitation: Complaints against corruption cannot be filed until seven years after the alleged offense, hindering timely action.
  • Political Influence: Appointment committees often comprise political party representatives, potentially influencing Lokpal's decisions.
  • Vacancy: Despite the enactment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act in 2013, no Lokpal has been appointed, indicating a lack of political will.
  • Exclusion of Judiciary: The omission of the judiciary from Lokpal's purview poses a significant limitation.
  • Legal Basis: Lack of a legal basis for Lokpal's rulings and ineffective mechanisms for contesting them undermine its effectiveness.


Lokpal and Lokayuktas represent significant steps towards combating corruption and promoting clean governance in India. Established under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013, these statutory bodies serve as crucial mechanisms for investigating allegations of corruption against public officials. Despite their historical significance and legislative backing, challenges such as the delayed appointment of Lokpal members, limitations in their jurisdiction, and issues regarding their independence and accountability persist. Addressing these challenges and ensuring effective implementation of anti-corruption measures will be essential in realizing the full potential of Lokpal and Lokayuktas in safeguarding public trust and upholding integrity in governance.

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