APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS OF LOKPAL
The massive public protests led by anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare and his associates paved the way for the introduction of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011. It was one of the most debated and discussed Bill in India. After 3 years of discussion and debate, the Bill received assent by President Pranab Mukherjee on January 1, 2014, and then it came into force on January 16, 2014.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 is an anti-corruption Act of the Parliament. The Act provides for the establishment of a statutory body which will be known as the ‘Lokpal’. The main function of the ‘Lokpal’ is to conduct inquiries in matters related to or connected with any allegations of corruption. The jurisdiction of Lokpal includes Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Groups A, B, C, and D officers and officials of the Central Government.
The ‘Lokpal’ shall be constituted of a Chairperson and a maximum of 8 members. Fifty percent of the members have to be Judicial members and at least fifty percent of the members must belong to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities, and Women.
The Chairperson and the Members of the Lokpal shall be appointed by the President on recommendations of a Selection Committee. The Selection Committee shall constitute the Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the Committee. The members of the committee shall be as follows:
- The Speaker of the House of the People.
- The Leader of Opposition in the House of the People.
- The Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice of India.
- One eminent Jurist has to be nominated by the President on the recommendation of the Chairperson and the members of the Selection Committee.
The Act also provides for the constitution of a Search Committee for the purpose of preparing a panel of persons to be considered for appointment by the Selection Committee. The Search Committee shall consist of at least seven persons of standing and having special knowledge and expertise in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, policymaking, finance including insurance and banking, law and management or in any other matter which, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, may be useful in making the selection of the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal. Fifty percent of the members of the Search Committee must belong to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities, and Women. The Selection Committee also has the discretion to select any person other than the person recommended by the Search Committee.
Section 6 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides that the Chairperson and the members of the Lokpal shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal. The Chairperson and the members of the Lokpal shall hold office for a period of 5 years from the date on which he enters his office or until he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
After the commencement of this Act, on 19th March 2019, the first Lokpal was appointed by the President upon the recommendations of the Selection Committee. The Chairperson of the Lokpal, Shri Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was appointed along with eight other members (including four judicial members). The appointments were recommended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee and approved by President Ram Nath Kovind.