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The Indian Ombudsman: LOKPAL AND ITS POWERS

The concept of an Ombudsman first originated in the Scandavian countries. The word itself has Swedish, Danish and Norwegian roots which really means a “representative”. They can be appointed by any organ of the government, i.e., either by legislative, Judiciary or Executive and their paramount duty is to resolve disputes and look into complaints submitted before them through recommendations or through Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques. They usually look into matters of misgovernance, corruption, poor services, mismanagement etc.

The Indian Ombudsman are the Lokpal and Lokayukta which gain their validity through the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013. The term Lokpal is derived from the combination of two words of Sanskrit origin, i.e., “loka” and “pala” which mean “people” and “protector” respectively.  The main aim behind forming such office by the government is to control the mal practices that are carried out by government officials like corruption.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta act lays down in detail the functions and powers of a Lokpal in its Chapter VIII. Some of its powers are listed below:

  • Powers of the Civil Court

According to section 9 of the Act, during an investigation if the Lokpal need any particular document or any other such relevant information than they can acquire so by using the same powers that are given to any Civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Some of them include the power of Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath; Discovery and production of documents; Receiving evidence on affidavits or Receiving any public record or copy thereof from any office. [1]

  • Supervisory Power of Lokpal

According to section 25 of the Act, the Lokpal has the power of superintendence over the central Vigilance Commission and the Delhi Special Police Establishment in relation to any investigation being conducted by the Lokpal commission.

  • Search and seizure of any document

As per the section 26 of the Act, if during the process of investigation, if the Lokpal believes that a particular document is needed for the continuation of the investigation, it has the power to authorize any agency on its behalf to search and seize such document and it can only be returned when Lokpal is of the view that such document is no longer needed or an authorized copy of the same is obtained.

  • Power of Lokpal to utilise services of officers of Central or State Government.

The Lokpal has the power to utilise the services of any particular officer of centre or state in order to conduct any investigation or inquiry for any case under Section 28 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act.

  • Powers in relation to the assets of corrupt officials

The Lokpal under the said act has the power of going through the assets of any officer in the process of investigation barring some and even has the right to confiscate them in some special circumstances under section 29, 30 and 31 of the act.

Apart from these special powers the act also gives the Lokpal power to transfer or suspend any public officer[2] or take necessary measure in order to protect the destruction of any document or record[3]. The Lokpal also has the power to delegate[4] their authority to any employee or officer subject to some regulations and limitations.



[1] Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908)

[2] Section 32 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013


[3] Section 33 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013

[4] Section 34 of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013

  • Who is an Ombudsman
  • Lokpal and Lokayukt
  • Power of Lokpal

BY : Kopal Bansal

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