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Mains Answer Writing

28-February-2024

Q1) The Lokpal Act aimed to establish an institution that would act as a deterrent against corruption. However, the actual impact of the Lokpal has fallen short of expectations. Assess the reasons behind the underwhelming performance of the Lokpal and propose strategies to strengthen its functioning. (250 Words/ 15 Marks)

ANSWER

Lokpal (ombudsman) is an anti-corruption authority created through the Lokpal Act. The prime objective of the Lokpal is to check corruption in public places; however, its functioning has been underwhelming for a slew of reasons:

  1. Delay in appointments to the Lokpal at centre reduced the effect of the body.

E.g., the chairperson and members of the Lokpal were not appointed by the government for more than five years after the passage of the law.

  1. Procedural roadblocks have undermined functioning as the government for a very long time did not specify rules regarding format of filing complaints, asset declaration by public servants etc.
  2. Lack of constitutional status, influence of executive etc., undermines institutional independence. Vacancies to Lokayukta and Lokpal are not filled in timely manner.
  3. No jurisdiction over judiciary excludes an entire pillar of democracy. Further, complaints against corruption cannot be registered after 7 years from the offence, creating a safe zone for corrupt officials.
  4. The inquiry and prosecution wing of the Lokpal has seen considerable delay. Till June 2023, the director of enquiry had not been appointed.
  5. There is lack of adequate staff for complete oversight over administrative corruption, complaints and inquiry. Institutional factors such as it being part of the executive structure or postretirement benefits for judicial members of Lokpal create conflict of interest.

 

In light of the seminal nature of the institution of Lokpal for corruption free governance, following steps may be taken to make the body more effective:

  1. The appointments of functionaries in the office of Lokpal must be made in timely manner and scale to ensure its optimum functioning.
  2. It is an imperative to raise people’s awareness about the institution and its role as an anticorruption watchdog.

E.g., former member of the Lokpal, Justice Bhosle suggested national level conferences to enhance the awareness of the people.

  1. The rules regarding filing complaints should be kept simple, with whistleblower protections to check the reducing participation of people with the institution.
  2. The manning and training of the professionals of the institution should be done periodically, to prevent Lokpal from becoming a top-heavy institution.
  3. It is an imperative to restore the confidence of common man by making the institution of Lokpal more accessible and responsive, bridging the palpable trust deficit.

E.g., the composition of Lokpal can be made more reflective of the civil society by provisioning for imminent persons from all walks of life to be made the members of the Lokpal.

  1. Adequate mechanisms should be in place to keep a tab upon frivolous complaints and complaints which are not under the jurisdiction of the body.

 

Corruption is a drag upon the vision for a citizen centric, transparent, and accountable model of governance. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to collectively work on corrective measures in order to make Lokpal more effective.

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