The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 is an anti- corruption Act of the Parliament. The Act provides for the establishment of a statutory body known as ‘Lokpal’. The word Lokpal has derived from two Sanskrit words namely ‘lok’ meaning ‘people” and ‘pala’ meaning ‘protector’. Hence, the meaning of Lokpal is ‘people’s protector or caretaker’. The Lokpal is constituted for the purpose of looking into matters that are connected to corruption. The main aim of this anti-corruption statutory body is to eradicate corruption from the roots of the country.
It is very essential to understand the jurisdiction of Lokpal. The Act provides the subject matter jurisdiction of the Lokpal and states that the Lokpal shall inquire in matters that are connected to, or arising out of allegations of corruption. The Lokpal has power to conduct inquiries against the following:
- The current Prime Minister or the former Prime Ministers of the country, provided the matter does not relate to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic and space.
- The current or former Ministers of the Union.
- The current or former Members of the Parliament.
An inquiry can be conducted against the current or former Prime Ministers of the country only if the full bench of the Lokpal considers the initiation of inquiry and at least two- third members of the full bench must approve for the same.
The inquiries against Ministers of the Union and the Members of the parliament cannot be conducted on the basis of anything said or a vote given by him in the Parliament or any committee.
- ‘Group A’ or ‘Group B’ or ‘Group C’ or ‘Group D’ officials, or any public servant at an equivalent position, as defined under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The inquiry may be conducted against the current or former public servants who are connected with the affairs of the Union. If the aforementioned public servants are serving or have served in connection with the State affairs, the officers of the Lokpal are required to obtain a consent from the concerned State Government in order to conduct inquiry proceedings for the same.
- The current or former Chairperson or members, or employee of any body, corporation, trusts, society, company or Board established under a statute, or wholly or partly financed by the Central Government or controlled by it. If the statutory bodies are wholly or partly financed by any State Government, or controlled by it, the consent of the respective State Government is required for conducting inquiry.
- the current or former Director, Manager, Secretary or other officers of any society or association of persons that is wholly or partly financed by the Government, provided the annual income of the society or association of persons exceeds Rs.one crores, as notified by the Central Government.
- the current or former Director, Manager, Secretary or any other officer of a society, association of persons, or trusts that has received a donation of Rs.10 Lacks or more from any foreign source under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
The Act states that the jurisdiction of the Lokpal shall be exercised by Benches which may be constituted of the Chairperson and other members, having at least one Judicial Member. The territorial jurisdiction of each Bench shall be decided by the Lokpal.